The 2011 NBA Draft is about an hour away -- and there's been plenty of chatter among teams on potential moves. The Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks struck an agreement on a deal a couple hours before draft time.
ESPN's Chad Ford writes: "The Bucks will get Sacramento's Beno Udrih, Charlotte's Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston
and the 19th pick from the Bobcats in Thursday night's draft, while
Charlotte obtains the No. 7 pick from Sacramento and forward Corey Maggette from Milwaukee. The Kings will get guard John Salmons from Milwaukee and the 10th pick in the draft. Charlotte will keep the No. 9 pick."
To the chagrin of some, the Bulls probably won't get in on the wheeling and dealing. You "never say never", as general manager Gar Forman put it Tuesday, but it's likely the Bulls keep their late first-rounders (Nos. 28 and 30) and draft. Let's take a look at who they might draft at 28 and 30.
28. Chicago Bulls: UCLA's F Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8. Notes: Technically this does fill a need, as the Bulls were talking about taking the "best available". Honeycutt would fit right into the Bulls' Bench Mob, providing them with a legitimate backup small forward. Luol Deng was among the league leaders in minutes last season -- while you trust he'll come back in just as good shape next season, the Bulls certainly would rather have him play reduced minutes. Kyle Korver played most of the minutes Deng didn't, but he simply didn't have the defensive prowess to keep up. NBADraft.net compares Honeycutt to Tayshaun Prince, adding that he's an "extremely versatile wing player." Sure, a two-guard would be a good addition, but you'd rather try your luck via free agency rather than draft an uncertainty. Honeycutt's game, by most accounts, should fit right into the NBA.
30. Chicago Bulls: Purdue's F JaJuan Johnson, 6-10. Notes: As mentioned earlier, he's one guy to keep an eye on when the Bulls' first-round picks come around. The Bulls already have Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson at the power forward spots, but Johnson's game fits right into the Bulls' scheme: he's able to hit shots from the perimeter, should encourage more running with his athleticism and who knows, he may even make Gibson expendable down the road. In his final season with the Boilermakers, Johnson averaged 20 and a half points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game. He seems like a poor man's LaMarcus Aldridge: tall, lanky and able to hit shots from the outside.
Other guys to keep an eye on:
Duke's F Kyle Singler, 6-8. Notes: NBADraft.net projects him going to the Bulls at No. 28. He and Honeycutt both stand at 6-8, though the Bulls could go either way, offense or defense. Singler would be the former, as he showed in college that he has a solid outside shot, hitting 267 three-pointers in four seasons at Duke.
Richmond's F Justin Harper, 6-9. Notes: DraftExpress projects him going to the Bulls at No. 28. He may be a tweener, but in his final season at Richmond, he shot 45 percent on three-pointers, making over two per game. JaJuan Johnson is bigger, better defensively and seems to be more polished offensively (Harper averaged 18 points in his final season at Richmond). If Johnson is taken before the Bulls' pick comes up, the Bulls could go to Harper, though Johnson makes more sense for them.
Georgia's G Travis Leslie, 6-4. DraftExpress projects him to go to the Bulls at No. 30, adding: "One of the more unique prospects around, Travis Leslie
could easily be called the best athlete in college basketball. He
plays way above the rim whenever he has a chance to and does so
effortlessly, despite standing just 6'4. As a jump-shooter, Leslie is fairly limited .... this is likely the part
of his game he needs to work on the most down the road, especially if
he's to make the transition to the shooting guard position eventually,
where his size indicates he'd be best served. His mechanics are somewhat
crude and mechanical, featuring a fairly long wind-up, while his touch
leaves something to be desired as well." Could the Bulls attempt to fill a "need"? It's clear they want to upgrade at shooting guard, but Leslie, who averaged 14 points and made 13 of 43 (32 percent) three-pointers this past season for Georgia, doesn't really fit the bill.
Reaching: If the Bulls want to reach, a name that's been growing steam is Duke's 6-2 guard Nolan Smith. He averaged 21 points and five assists in his final season with the Blue Devils (he played all four seasons). Although he shot just 35 percent on three-pointers, he was efficient from the field (46 percent on field-goals) and showed he can be a playmaker. Will that translate to the NBA level? At 6-2, he's small, though if the Bulls aren't content with C.J. Watson backing up Derrick Rose, they might reach for Smith, who's projected to go in the second round (No. 36) by DraftExpress.
What to do with No. 43?: Along with the two late first-rounders, the Bulls hold the No. 43 pick in the second-round. GM Gar Forman, however, told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn't anticipate keeping three rookies, so the No. 43 pick might be traded away for possibly cash or used for a European player.
The Bulls are a contending team -- there's no point in keeping three rookies on the roster. Trading away the No. 43 pick for cash seems like the most probable option.