Insider Sheds Light on Bulls’ ‘Eyebrow Raising’ Pre-Draft Activity

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.

Despite not having a first or second-round pick, the Chicago Bulls are operating like a team choosing a prospect during the 2023 NBA Draft.

“The headline…was that they spent time at the Combine holding player interview views with really high lottery picks,” NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson said on ‘The Bulls Talk Podcast’ on May 19. “I mean Brandon Miller was, to me, the eyebrow-raising one….it was still a surprise that the Bulls were as active as they were.”

Alabama forward Brandon Miller said he met with Bulls brass at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago on May 16. Miller is a skilled 6-foot-8 wing who is also projected to go No. 2 overall to the Charlotte Hornets and no lower than to the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 3.

Johnson noted that the Bulls will meet with several top prospects including presumed No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson but added that he “knows for a fact” they will attend his pro day.

Henderson is the former G League Ignite star who has drawn favorable comparisons to the likes of Russell Westbrook, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant, and former Bulls star Derrick Rose.

Johnson was adamant that nothing the Bulls did signals a trade is in the works.

“They’re just going through the pre-draft process as if they’re going to have a pick,” Johnson said attributing the activity to the Bulls doing their due diligence on players they might not otherwise see. “A lot of these top guys now don’t do individual workouts. They have pro days”.

Still, Portland is where some pundits believe things could get interesting.

Blazers, Bulls Have Unfinished Business

The Blazers owe the Bulls a first-round pick that is lottery protected through the 2028 season. Until that pick conveys, Portland is somewhat limited in what they can do to improve the roster around superstar point guard Damian Lillard as is their stated goal and his admitted wish in lieu of a rebuild.

Blazers general manager Joe Cronin has been open about having conversations with the Bulls about their options to satisfy those obligations.

Johnson addressed speculation by league sources, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe, that the Blazers are still open to moving the No. 3 overall pick saying that would have to include the likes of DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine. But Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report shot down the idea of a LaVine-to-Portland scenario.

According to the Rose Garden Report’s Sean Highkin, a LaVine trade is highly unlikely.

“Zach LaVine, absolutely not,” Highkin said on ‘The Athletic NBA Show’ on May 20. “I can tell you that type of thing isn’t really what they’re looking at.”

It would stand to reason that despite his friendship with Lillard, DeRozan is also an unlikely trade candidate, at least to the Blazers. Like LaVine, the 33-year-old DeRozan is a poor defender while Highkin notes Portland will target two-way contributors.

Highkin also echoed Johnson’s sentiments that Portland’s move up to No. 3 overall likely hurts the Bulls’ chances of getting either of the Blazers’ first-round picks this year.

Arturas Karnisovas Takes in EuroLeague Match Featuring Former Bulls

While the focus stateside is what Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas will do to improve the roster this offseason, he is overseas taking in some of the action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs.

Karnisovas – pictured seated next to Robertas Javtokas – was an accomplished player on the international scene before jumping to the NBA and into a front-office role.

He was confirmed to be in attendance for the matchup between RC Barcelona and Real Madrid on May 19 which the latter won 78-66 in a game that featured several former NBA players including former Bulls Nikola Mirotic and Tomas Satoransky.