I can’t imagine many teams have wanted to trade places with the Chicago Bulls over the past several years, but perhaps that’s just another thing that has changed under the Bulls new front office.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Bulls No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft has garnered some jealousy around the league. When discussing an imaginary trade between the Bulls and Warriors on his podcast (which included the No. 4 pick as well as one of Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr. for the Warriors’ No. 2 pick), Lowe gave us an idea of how other teams around the league view Chicago’s draft night situation (emphasis mine).
“I don’t think the Bulls are paying that price. When I stumbled upon that and started surveying people around the league, my talking it through with them is that’s a lot to pay to move up two spots. Unless you just love somebody, but I don’t think Chicago loves somebody,” Lowe said on The Lowe Post podcast. “I think actually four – I’ve had a lot of teams tell me ‘I’d love to be in Chicago’s spot because I get my pick of whoever I want below those Top-3, and if someone falls to me because someone does something crazy, then great.'”
Which players belong at the top of this draft class has been quite difficult to figure out, and sitting comfortably right outside the Top-3, it’s not hard to see why the Bulls may be in the most ideal position. Either the team can snatch-up whatever coveted prospect drops out of the top-3 or get the first pick of the draft’s “second tier.” Not bad. Not bad at all.
Meanwhile, it’s been widely speculated and reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves have been hitting themselves as they try to figure out who is this draft’s best prospect. The franchise is now actively looking to trade the pick, and the Golden State Warriors (who sit in the No. 2 spot) are believed to be interested in doing the same. I’ve seen some wonder whether the Bulls could look to trade up into one of these positions, but what we hear from Lowe above is exactly why that feels unlikely.
Not only do Minnesota at Golden State probably not know whom to select with the first and second pick, respectively, but both are in a tough trade situation. The two franchises will likely look for a solid starter in any trade package, which we can agree sounds more than reasonable in a normal draft. Except, this isn’t a normal draft, and there is a real chance any of the Bulls recent lottery picks could still prove better than a player in the top-3 of this draft class. As Lowe says, handing over Carter Jr. or Markkanen just doesn’t feel worth it to move up two spots, especially when it’s completely likely whoever the Bulls select at No. 1 or 2 could fall to No. 4 anyway.
Every team’s draft board is bound to be different, and that’s something Arturas Karnisovas has brought up as an advantage for the Bulls moving forward. Chicago is in a great position at No. 4 to read the room and wait. In fact, that’s why I think it’s far more reasonable to believe the Bulls trade down than up. Lowe is literally telling us that teams around the league would love to be in Chicago’s position, and that means one of them may be willing to give quite the haul to move up to that spot.
Fellow struggling Eastern Conference teams like the Pistons (7th), Knicks (8th), and Wizards (9th) all sit toward to back of the lottery, and could be desperate to grab a certain “big-name” player. The same goes for teams like the Suns (10th) and Kings (12), who are both on the cusp of competing for a playoff spot but, arguably, need one more piece to push them over the edge. The point being, there is no lack of potential trade partners for the Bulls and apparently no lack of “love” for their draft position.
We also can’t fail to mention what feels more in Arturas Karnisovas’ wheelhouse. Over his years in the draft, Karnisovas has been the one to finesse teams, not the other way around. Trading up would feel a bit out of character with so much unknown (and, as Lowe says, he doesn’t think Chicago loves anyone enough to ensure they draft him). Whatever Karnisovas decides to do, though, it appears he is most definitely in a position of power heading into November 18th, and that should make Bulls fans plenty happy.