Will the Bulls Have to Wait Another Year for Portland's Pick?

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Will the Chicago Bulls Have to Wait Another Year for Portland’s Pick?

Chicago Bulls

If you found yourself banging your head on the wall multiple times this season in hopes of forgetting the putrid basketball you watched in Chicago … then you may have also forgotten about the Portland pick.

The Chicago Bulls acquired a lottery-protected first-round pick from the Trail Blazers two summers ago. The pick came over as part of a three-team deal that also saw Lauri Markkanen head to Cleveland and Portland’s Derrick Jones Jr. arrive in Chicago. With the Trail Blazers finishing as the 6th-worst team in the NBA last season after a hardcore second-half tank, the pick rolled over into this year. And it will continue to roll over if it fails to covey each season until 2028 (when it will then become a second-round pick).

The Bulls sent their own first-round pick from this upcoming draft to Orlando in the Nikola Vucevic trade (top-4 protected). With that being the case, I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to see a Blazers pick somewhere in the 15-20 range fall into their lap. Unfortunately, it looks like Portland has other plans.

Despite continuing to build around Damian Lillard by adding Jerami Grant in the offseason and Matisse Thybulle at the deadline, the Blazers stink just as much as the Bulls. They currently sit 31-37 and 13th in the Western Conference. It appears their goal remains to make a push for the postseason, but the chance of that actually happening feels pretty darn thin.

The good news is they’re just 2.0 games back from the Play-In Tournament. The bad news is that four teams are currently tied at 33-35 for the 9th seed. In other words, the competition is incredibly stiff. Making up the proper ground in less than a month isn’t going to be easy. Not to mention, even if they do make it up, they’d have to go on to win in the Play-In Tournament to secure a spot outside this summer’s lottery.

Now, as unlikely as it may be, I guess there is a world where the Blazers end up in the lottery and the Bulls still get the pick. The way Portland structured its original deal with Chicago was very strange. Since we already explained all of it earlier this year around the trade deadline, I’ll send you that post here. In short, though, Portland can’t trade most of their other first-rounders at the moment because the NBA restricts trading future firsts in back-to-back drafts. For example, if they wanted to trade a 2025 first-rounder, they couldn’t because it’s possible for the Bulls’ pick to convey in 2024 or 2026.

This restricts them heavily when it comes to further building out their roster. And, considering the goal still seems to be to create a winning product around Lillard, they may want some flexibility back. One way to do that would be by removing or changing the protections on that first-rounder. I can’t imagine them doing that this summer when a top-10 pick could be coming their way (perhaps unless they were in the running for a massive star to pair with Lillard?). But could they do it ahead of 2024 so that they don’t need to worry about it anymore? It’s not out of the question.

Anyway, the bigger point here is the Bulls are in line to wait *at least* another whole season to put the Trail Blazers’ pick to use. And that’s just … Booooo!

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.