The NBA draft is usually can't-miss TV for this writer, one of the most exciting nights of the year. But if you're a Bulls fan, should you even bother watching this year's draft?
It's no secret that the Bulls' number one priority this summer is adding Carmelo Anthony to the roster, and who can blame them? He is the best pure scorer on the planet not named Durant, and his strength advantage over KD probably vaults him to #1 in the NBA playoffs.
It's also no secret that the Bulls are one dominant scorer away from being legitimate championship contenders for the next few years. Melo has made it known for months that he wants to be on a team where he can compete for an NBA title immediately, as in this season.
Most NBA analysts agree that the Bulls are the favorite to land Melo this summer, whether it's as a free agent or through a sign and trade. I've already explained each scenario in detail more than once, and the intelligent Bulls fans who read this blog know that both scenarios require the Bulls to trade away both of their first-round picks in tonight's NBA draft.
Joe Sixpack fans believe that if the Bulls don't announce a trade before the draft that they will be keeping both picks, and nothing could be further from the truth. While many deals are usually announced during the NBA draft, just as many trades don't become official until after July 1, for various reasons.
The NBA's fiscal year starts on July 1, and that's when players officially become free agents. Teams aren't officially allowed to begin negotiating with free agents until July 1, but in the real world, teams can talk to agents "off the record" whenever they want.
For example, Melo and Tom Thibodeau have the same agent, so there is nothing stopping Thibs or John Paxson or Gar Forman or Jerry Reinsdorf from speaking with Thibs' agent any time they want. And there is nothing stopping the agent from hinting that Melo really, really wants to be a Bull.
And there is nothing stopping Paxson from speaking to his former coach and current Knicks GM Phil Jackson about who he would hypothetically draft if he had the #16 and #19 picks in the 2014 NBA draft. And there is no reason why Phil can't tell Pax that hypothetically, he'd have no problem doing a sign and trade with Melo as long as he got back a few assets.
Reading the NBA draft tea leaves:
So Bulls fans should certainly sit down and enjoy the NBA draft. But they should do so with the following understanding in place:
- If the Bulls draft two college players, they may well announce later in the evening that they have been traded for one player who was taken closer to #10. That would probably mean they want to keep that player, though he could easily be part of a trade for Kevin Love or Melo.
- If the Bulls draft two college players, it doesn't mean that either of them will be on the roster past July 11th (the day the moratorium ends and free agents can sign new contract). There could easily be a trade in place that can't be announced until after July 1.
- If the Bulls trade both picks for Dario Saric, they are doing so to create cap space, as Saric won't be coming to the NBA for three more seasons (just like Nikola Mirotic).
- If the Bulls announce a trade during the NBA draft that gets rid of both picks for future picks, they don't have a sign and trade lined up. They would only do this to clear out cap space, which is probably not a good sign. Going under the salary cap to sign a free agent outright is the worst outcome for the Bulls, as I have explained in past articles.
I hope this all makes sense to you, if not feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have. And watch the NBA draft, it's a fun evening, even when you don't know for sure that the Bulls will be keeping the players they draft.