Have the Chicago Bulls Made a Draft Night Promise?

If you’re not caught up on the Chicago Bulls and Devin Carter murmurs, let me help.

The Providence guard has been loosely connected to the No. 11 pick multiple times, but the conversation really picked up after The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor released his latest mock draft. The insider currently has Carter going to the Bulls at No. 11, and the blurb he included regarding why triggered a chain reaction.

First things first, here’s what O’Connor wrote:

“League sources say that Devin Carter has received a promise somewhere in the lottery. Could that team be the Bulls? Carter would be a great fit next to Coby White as a lockdown defender who can thrive with or without the ball on offense. Plus, DeMar DeRozan could leave in free agency, where he would fit with the Clippers if Paul George were to sign elsewhere, so there’d be an immediate minutes void that Carter could fill.”

Of course, O’Connor isn’t confirming that he’s heard the Chicago Bulls are the ones to make the always-scary promise, but the fact he included it here is undoubtedly noteworthy. The same can be said about the fact that SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell promptly echoed O’Connor’s words on X, stating that he heard “whispers” about the Bulls promising Carter he wouldn’t fall past No. 11.

NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson also went ahead and wrote about the rumors, confirming that the Chicago Bulls have looked into Carter during the pre-draft process. For what it’s worth, however, he followed that up by saying the team is looking into plenty of options in the late lottery:

“The Bulls have indeed spent predraft work on Carter. But that hardly narrows their efforts down; they’ve cast a wide net.

Making a promise to Carter would be a mistake for reasons that extend beyond the fact that draft promises haven’t been kind to the Bulls in the past,” Johnson wrote. “This has little to do with Carter as a prospect and more to do with how unpredictable a draft it is: What if a player the Bulls didn’t expect to fall to No. 11 is available?”

I’m no insider (*readers let out a collective duh*), but I should say that this also isn’t the first time Devin Carter’s name has been put on my radar. And, well, that should kind of say a lot about how loud the noise has been around these two!

So … Did the Chicago Bulls Really Make a Promise?

Let me first say that I think Devin Carter is a pretty intriguing prospect. Particularly in a draft that scouts appear more bored by than a Ted Talk about taxes, he feels like a worthwhile gamble. Sure, the fact he’s already 22 years old isn’t ideal, but Carter does possess an all-around skillset that could make for a high-level role player at the next level.

Carter averaged 19.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.8 steals in his junior season. He also turned a combined 28.8 percent shooting effort over his first two seasons from 3 into a 37.7 percent effort on 6.8 attempts per game this past year. The rebounding and steal numbers, in particular, speak to his high intensity and shockingly long frame. While he only stands a little over six-foot-two, Carter has a six-foot-eight wingspan!

Devin Carter, who some speculate may have a draft night promise from the Chicago Bulls
© Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive chops have been there for Carter. Whether it be the clips I’ve seen or the scouting reports I’ve read from smarter people, all indications are that the defense should translate to the next level. We all know effort is half the battle, and Carter never fails in that department. Not to mention, the instincts are very good. The real question is how much Carter can improve offensively. He’ll need to show that the 3-point shot is here to stay, and he also doesn’t appear to flash the most impressive playmaking ability. Does he have what it takes to play point guard? Can he offer enough scoring versatility to play shooting guard?

If one thing is for sure, Carter’s stock continues to rise thanks to his intangibles and excellent pro-day. And the Chicago Bulls sure sound like they’re buying into the potential.

Have the Bulls really seen enough to decide this early that Carter is the guy, though? As Johnson wisely noted in his piece, promises are rarely a good idea in the NBA. This feels especially true in such an unpredictable draft like this one. The top 3 right now is pretty much anyone’s guess, which means that there is no telling what kind of talent could fall to Chicago at the No. 11 spot.

Heck, we’re even starting to hear rumors about Nikola Topic possibly stumbling down draft boards. Widely viewed as a top 5 pick for months on end, Topic is now dealing with a partially torn ACL. While this is always a concerning injury, we’re still talking about an 18-year-old with great size and an even better feel for the game. I still wouldn’t bet on it right now, but what if he ended up falling all the way into the Bulls’ lap?

Of course, then there are names like Ron Holland, Stephon Castle, and Cody Williams. All it takes is one surprise selection to drop one of those top 10 projected picks into the Bulls’ spot. And, as interesting as Carter is as a prospect, I think most would agree that those three names have a considerably higher upside.

If the Bulls were a team like the Memphis Grizzlies – who had an injury-riddled season and expect to make a postseason run next season – I can potentially understand making a promise to someone like Carter. He feels like someone who could come in right away and make an immediate impact. But is that really the kind of player the Bulls should be targeting? This is an organization that has finished under .500 in back-to-back seasons and has a select few building blocks. Using this pick on someone with a higher ceiling – if the draft shakes out that way – feels like it very well could be the right call.

Flexibility should be a priority for the Bulls – whether it be in the draft or with their current roster. So while I wouldn’t hate if Carter ended up the choice on June 26th, I’d be frustrated to know it was because the Bulls had slammed other doors shut a month in advance.

Ps: If the Chicago Bulls have made a promise, I do wonder what this means for their current roster construction. Adding another guard into this mix would feel silly. Carter would need more room to grow, so could it make the idea of trading someone like Alex Caruso more feasible? What about Ayo Dosunmu? This will be something to think about if the Bulls go guard in this draft.

Article originally published on June 5.

UPDATE: The rumors keep on swirling for the Chicago Bulls, who have now been linked to a possible trade up the draft board for two of the biggest names in the draft. Here’s more on their potential interest in Donovan Clingan and Matas Buzelis. If they don’t trade up, however, have they told Devin Carter that he’s the pick?

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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