The NBA Draft Lottery has officially come and gone and, as expected, the Chicago Bulls will be sending their pick at No. 11 overall to the Orlando Magic thanks to Nikola Vucevic trade. To say that’s not exactly the consolation prize fans were eyeing after a mediocre campaign would be putting it lightly.
Having said that, the Bulls may have a pathway toward getting back into the first round of June’s draft.
Reporting amid the draft combine, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson have both hinted at the possibility that the Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers could renegotiate the protections on a pick owed to the Windy City crew by PDX via the three-team trade that saw Lauri Markkanen, Derrick Jones Jr. and Larry Nance Jr. all switch squads in 2021.
Were such a deal to come to fruition, the Bulls’ compensation could end up being a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Bulls Could Aid Blazers’ Trade Flexibility by Agreeing to Alter Pick Conditions
As it stands, the pick owed to the Bulls is lottery-protected every year for the next five years. Until its conveyance is actually triggered, Portland is limited in its ability to trade future draft picks.
That sort of limitation would be a hindrance for any club but it’s doubly so for the Blazers given the growing concerns about Damian Lillard’s future with the team.
Chicago won’t be allowing Portland to alter those terms as a favor or an act of sheer altruism, though. As Lowe put it in his Wednesday piece, “the Bulls will want something” in return. That something could be the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft, which the Blazers acquired from the New York Knicks in the Josh Hart trade.
Wrote Johnson of the possibility in March:
Portland, which is always looking to upgrade the roster to appease Lillard, doesn’t have as much trade flexibility until its outstanding draft compensation commitment to the Bulls is finalized. Thus, it may behoove the Trail Blazers to either discuss changing the protections on the first-round pick it owes the Bulls or perhaps even send the Knicks’ pick to the Bulls for, essentially, their own pick back.
Could the Bulls Make a Play for the No. 3 Pick?
An alternative theory on what the Bulls and the Blazers could potentially do together in a trade scenario — one that’s significantly more juicy — has been making the rounds on social media. Specifically, that Chicago could aim for Portland’s No. 3 overall pick by dangling one or both of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
For his part, Johnson believes there’s a method to the madness.
Multiple outlets reported that Portland will explore the market for that pick in an attempt to land a big splash for Damian Lillard. Would the Bulls instead engage in talks for that pick, which unequivocally would necessitate the inclusion of LaVine or, alternatively, DeMar DeRozan?
One league source told NBC Sports Chicago that if the Trail Blazers went this route, they would be focused on more defensive-minded, two-way players. Lillard does have strong relationships with both LaVine and DeRozan, the former of whom he played with at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. So stay tuned.