Here Are the Draft Picks the Bulls Still Have (and Can Trade) at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline

NBA mock draft
NBA mock draft

With the NBA Trade deadline quickly approaching, I thought we might as well take a second to review the Chicago Bulls’ tradable draft capital.

Time and again, I see folks throw around player names and trade ideas that just don’t seem to take into account what the front office actually has to work with. Sure, there are always ways to get creative, but what the Bulls are capable of pulling off at this trade deadline is undoubtedly restricted due to their previous moves.

What the Bulls Don’t Have

Indeed, let’s first recall what they don’t have. Thanks to the front office’s first big move to acquire Nikola Vucevic two seasons ago, they are more-likely-than-not going to lose this year’s first-round pick. Arturas Karnisovas dealt both the team’s 2021 and 2023 first-rounders to Orlando and made each top-4 protected. The Magic have already drafted Franz Wagner with the No. 8-overall pick in 2021, and they are likely set to see this second first round pick convey as the Bulls inch closer and closer to a .500 record.

One more first-rounder is also already out the door. The team’s 2025 pick was shipped to San Antonio in the sign-and-trade deal for DeMar DeRozan with a top-10 protection. With that being the case, the next future first the Bulls can trade is their 2027 selection. Why? Well, the NBA’ Stepien Rule clarifies that an organization can not trade back-to-back first-rounders in advance.

In other words, since both the 2023 and 2025 picks are going, the Bulls must make a selection in the 2024 NBA Draft. Could they then trade that player on draft night? Yes. But they basically must hold onto the pick until the night of the draft.

One recently popular way that teams have kind of gotten around this stipulation is with pick swaps. The transaction is exactly what it sounds like. The Bulls would be allowed to offer another organization the opportunity to switch out their 2024 first-round pick in exchange for Chicago’s. While this could be valuable if the team is exchanging a pick in the 20s for a pick in the lottery, it’s clearly still not as valuable as merely having both first-rounders in your control.

We should also keep in mind that you can not trade picks more than seven years in advance. With that being the case, the Bulls are stuck with just the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to use in any kind of trade. But, wait, it’s also not that simple! For the Bulls to trade either one of those picks, they would also have to figure out how they align with the protections placed on their previously dealt first-rounders.

For example, if the Bulls found themselves in the top-10 of the lottery in 2025 (which may not be a crazy thought right now) and kept their pick, the selection they owe San Antonio would bounce to 2026. Can you see how that would mess everything up? To ensure there are no problems, the Bulls would have to either lift certain protections on past picks or put details in the fine print of the new trades that would work around any possible issues. Not impossible … just more complicated. Also a little annoying.

What the Bulls Do Have

Ok, let’s reconvene!

So the Bulls have their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to trade (with certain obstacles). They also have the ability to swap their 2024 and 2026 picks, if a team was interested.

That’s not nothing, but it also sure isn’t a whole lot, especially when we consider the future of the franchise is so murky. The last thing the Bulls want to do is trade these picks so far out when it’s still unclear if they’ll be in a competitive situation.

As for *additional* picks acquired via past trades, the Bulls do own a 2023 Portland Trail Blazers lottery protected first. They received this asset back as part of the three-team deal that saw Lauri Markkanen head to Cleveland. The pick was originally supposed to convey in 2022, but the Blazers missed the playoffs and it thus carried over into this season. If the Blazers end up in the lottery again, it will continue to carry over into the next year all the way until 2028. If it doesn’t convey by then, it’ll become a 2nd rounder.

All things considered, this is probably the most tradable piece of draft capital the Bulls currently own. The value of it it may not be the highest, when we consider it’s lottery protected and the Blazers keep struggling, but it’s still an “extra” first-rounder.

What About Second Rounders?

I’m glad you asked, dear reader! Full disclosure, unlike with the first-round stuff, I don’t have the status of the team’s second-rounders locked in my brain. Instead, I’m going to rely on what RealGM and Pro Sports Transactions have listed on their sites, so a hat tip to them.

The Bulls do not currently have their 2023 second-rounder, because it was included in the 2019 trade with the Wizards that netted the Bulls Otto Porter (the Wiz received Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis).

Chicago also doesn’t own their 2024 or 2025 second-round pick because they were dealt in the sign-and-trade deals for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, respectively. Any years after that (up to 2029), however, they should have in their possession.

One last thing we have to remember when talking about second-round picks is that the Bulls will have to forfeit whichever one comes next due to a tampering violation during Lonzo Ball’s free agency. And this appears to include any pick acquired via trade.

Our eyes right now need to be on a 2023 second-round pick they acquired from Denver via Cleveland in that same three-team Lauri Markkanen trade. The pick is 31-46 protected, and the NBA would snatch that from Chicago if it conveyed this season.

Considering the Lakers did just acquire Rui Hachimura from the Wizards for three seconds, we can’t say seconds are completely useless. But I also wouldn’t get too upset about the Bulls’ lack of those assets right now. At the end of the day, those picks aren’t necessarily moving any needles.

So, yeah, there you have it. I’m not sure if any of these picks will come into play over the next couple of weeks, but it still felt like a good time for a little refresher!

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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