- It’s conceivable that Jimmy Butler could wind up back in Chicago after next season, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Timberwolves traded for Butler last summer to bring a veteran presence to the organization, but he can opt out of a $19.8MM salary next summer and may be tempted to leave if Minnesota can’t make an impact in the playoffs. Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf remains a huge fan of Butler and would be interested in a reunion. “I loved the city of Chicago, and I love the Reinsdorfs,’’ Butler said. “I’m forever grateful for them in taking a chance on me, allowing me to become the player that I am today. It’s still incredible to me that I got to hoop in a Bulls jersey. I got to play in the house that [Michael] Jordan built, that [Scottie] Pippen played, all that stuff. That’s because of the Reinsdorfs. If the time comes where I say, ‘You know what, I do want to end this thing in a Bulls jersey,’ I think that would be amazing. But it’s all about being wanted and winning.’’
Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports wonders if the Bulls should make a run at the small forward. Executive John Paxson previous indicated that the team wouldn’t be major players in free agency, though Paxton also expressed frustration with the lousy season the Bulls just endured, saying that he never wanted to go through a season like it again. If George is willing to come to the Windy City, it may be difficult for the franchise to turn him away.
The Bulls only have slightly under $58MM in guaranteed salary on the books for next season, making them one of the only teams expected to have significant cap space. The scribe acknowledges that George signing in Chicago is a long shot, but he doesn’t believe it’s an impossible feat.
DeAndre Ayton should be the Bulls’ selection if they win the lottery, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports argues. The Arizona big man is unquestionably the best prospect in the draft and the top center available since Karl-Anthony Towns, Strotman continues. His offensive game is more developed than any big man over the last decade outside of Anthony Davis, Strotman adds.
- In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune answered several questioning pertaining to Zach LaVine‘s impending contract talks, Kris Dunn, and the Bulls‘ plans entering the draft.
- Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago writes that overpaying to acquire Kawhi Leonard, whose injury status and relationship with the Spurs make him a possible trade candidate, is not the way to rebuild the Bulls.
Comments from Bulls vice president John Paxson suggest that the franchise is keen on letting the market decide pending restricted free agent Zach LaVine‘s value and, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times writes, the 23-year-old’s fate remains a dicey topic.
Cowley writes that a source of his claims that LaVine’s camp regards him as a max or close-to-max player but that the Bulls may not be so sure.
“Well, the market dictates a lot and how things go,” Paxson said. “I think the market has tightened up a little bit the last couple of years since the spike. [The Bulls] obviously value Zach a lot, and we think he’s a part of our future, but he has the opportunity to explore things.”
After a series of tiebreakers were conducted Friday night, the lottery odds for the NBA Draft have been finalized. Similarly, the draft order for teams outside of the lottery has been decided as well.
While a total of four two-way ties and one four-way tie were all broken by coin toss, the biggest winner of the night would have to be the Mavs who will now officially boast the third-greatest odds when the lottery is drawn on May 15.
Although the Hawks equaled Dallas in futility, both teams limited to 24 wins on the year, they’ll slot in one spot behind them at No. 4. That means, if neither team secures a top-three pick when the lottery results are revealed, they’ll just pick after them, the same as if they had won one more game. Both teams, however, will have nearly identical odds (13.7% versus 13.8%) of securing a top-three pick in the lottery.
The Bulls also won big today, edging out the Kings for the No. 6 spot. Sacramento will have an identical shot at landing at top-three pick, however.
The four-way tie between Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Indiana ended with the Thunder at No. 20, the Jazz at No. 21, the Pelicans at No. 22 and the Pacers at No. 23.
That Oklahoma City pick will head to Minnesota while the 22nd pick will go straight to the Bulls as part of the Nikola Mirotic deal.
The Heat won the tiebreaker for the the 16th pick, ahead of the Bucks, and will send that to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic trade back in 2015.
Milwaukee claiming the No. 17 pick is particularly interesting since, had they won the tiebreaker, they would have had to flip the pick to the Suns as part of the Greg Monroe trade. Since they didn’t, they’ll keep the pick and send a protected first-rounder in 2019, so long as it falls between 4-16.
The Spurs won the coin toss between themselves and the Timberwolves and will now pick at No. 18. Minnesota’s 19th pick will go to Atlanta as part of a 2015 Adreian Payne trade.
As is always the case, the loser of any tiebreaker will end up with the better pick in the second round. In the event of the four-way tie, all four teams will simply be flipped, giving the Pacers the 50th pick and so on.
Here’s a rundown of what the draft order currently looks like, prior to the results of the May lottery.
With the Bulls’ 2017/18 season officially over, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson spoke today to reporters about a handful of topics in his end-of-season press conference. Notably, while Paxson called the coming offseason “as important a summer as we’ve had in a long time,” he said he expects the majority of the current roster to be back, since the team is “headed in the right direction” (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).
The Bulls don’t have any unrestricted free agents on the roster, and none of their players have the ability to opt out this summer, so Paxson’s comments about roster continuity don’t come as a surprise. The most important free agent decisions for the Bulls figure to come in restricted free agency — Zach LaVine, David Nwaba, and Noah Vonleh can all become RFAs.
Let’s round up a few more of Paxson’s noteworthy comments from today’s presser:
- Head coach Fred Hoiberg will “absolutely” be back with the Bulls next season, per Paxson (Twitter link via Johnson). Unlike fellow Eastern lottery coaches Frank Vogel and Jeff Hornacek, Hoiberg was always considered very likely to return, but Paxson’s public confirmation makes it official.
- Although Robin Lopez doesn’t necessarily fit the development timeline of core pieces like Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and LaVine, the Bulls continue to talk about him as a potential fixture. Paxson said today that the veteran center is “an important part of our future” (Twitter link via Johnson). Lopez is under contract for one more year at a cost of about $14.36MM, so it’s not clear if Chicago envisions keeping him beyond the summer of 2019.
- After finishing in a tie for the sixth spot in the lottery standings, the Bulls are assured of a top-10 pick in the 2018 draft. Paxson said today that the club may target a wing with that lottery selection. “That would be an ideal spot,” Paxson said, per Johnson (Twitter link). “Size and length and a shooting and defensive component at the wing.” Villanova’s Mikal Bridges is one potential option who would fit that description.
More importantly for fans of most non-playoff teams, the end of the regular season means that the 2018 NBA draft picture is clearer than ever. The 2018 draft order is close to being set and – with a small handful of exceptions – most of this year’s traded draft picks with protections on them have now officially changed hands or officially stayed put.
However, there are still some major question marks surrounding the draft order, since several clubs finished the regular season with identical records, and draft tiebreakers don’t work like playoff tiebreakers do. In order to break these ties, the NBA will conduct random drawings this Friday, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN notes (via Twitter).
[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]
For lottery teams, such as the 24-58 Mavericks and Hawks, who finished tied for third in the lottery standings, the implications of those drawings are huge. Whichever team wins that tiebreaker will have ever-so-slightly better odds at the first overall pick (13.8% to 13.7%), and will be in position to claim the higher first-round pick if neither team lands in the top three.
For instance, if the Suns and Grizzlies remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lottery and another team leapfrogs the Mavs and Hawks, the winner of the tiebreaker between Dallas and Atlanta would claim the No. 4 overall pick — the loser would get No. 5. For the second round, the loser of the tiebreaker would receive the higher selection.
Here are the draft tiebreakers that will be conducted on Friday:
- Mavericks vs. Hawks for Nos. 3, 4.
- Kings vs. Bulls for Nos. 6, 7.
- Bucks vs. Heat for Nos. 16, 17.
- Spurs vs. Timberwolves for Nos. 18, 19.
- Pacers vs. Pelicans vs. Thunder vs. Jazz for Nos. 20-23.
Several of those tiebreakers will also affect this year’s traded picks. Most notably, the Bucks/Heat drawing has massive implications for Milwaukee and Phoenix — the Bucks’ first-round pick will head to the Suns if it lands at No. 16, but Milwaukee would keep it if it ends up at No. 17. In other words, each team has a 50/50 shot at the pick. If the Bucks keep it, they’d owe their 2019 first-round selection to Phoenix, albeit with somewhat similar protections.
Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2018. A check mark indicates the pick will definitely be sent to the indicated team:
- Nets pick to Cavaliers (✔️): Eighth in lottery standings
- Lakers pick to Sixers (97.1%) or Celtics (2.9%): 10th in lottery standings
- Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via the lottery.
- Pistons pick to Clippers (97.5%): 12th in lottery standings
- Note: Pistons will keep pick if it lands in top three via the lottery.
- Heat pick to Suns (✔️): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
- Bucks pick to Suns (50%): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
- Note: Bucks will keep pick if it lands at No. 17 via a random drawing.
- Timberwolves pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 18 or 19 (tie)
- Thunder pick to Timberwolves (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
- Pelicans pick to Bulls (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
- Cavaliers pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 25
- Raptors pick to Nets (✔️): No. 29
- Rockets pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 30
Here’s a breakdown of the traded second-round picks that will change hands in 2018:
- Bulls pick to Knicks (✔️): No. 36 or 37 (tie)
- Nets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 38
- Knicks pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 39
- Lakers pick to Nets (✔️): No. 40
- Hornets pick to Magic (✔️): No. 41
- Clippers pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 43
- Bucks pick to Nets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
- Heat pick to Rockets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
- Nuggets pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 47
- Trail Blazers pick to Mavericks (✔️): No. 54
- Cavaliers pick to Hornets (✔️): No. 55
- Celtics pick to Thunder (✔️): No. 57
- Warriors pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 58
- Raptors pick to Suns (✔️): No. 59
- Rockets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 60