It’s the Chicago Bulls Podcast #34 and we’ve got an NBA Draft Lottery Preview, Our Picks to Replace Robin Lopez, Jim Boylen signs an extension, but is he really our best option? and Our NBA Playoff Picks and Playoff Lessons We’ve Learned so far.
Welcome to the Bulls Podcast, coming to you from BullsPodcast.com. This is where we bring you the latest news, reviews, rants, rumors and opinions on the players, coaches and front office of the Chicago Bulls.
We’ve got a lot in store for you this episode. Including:
- NBA Lottery Preview
- Who will replace Robin Lopez? Our Picks
- Jim Boylen signs an extension, but is he really our best option?
- NBA Playoff Picks and Playoff Lessons Learned so far.
Come TANK with us!
This was a very prominent week in Chicago Bulls History
- 30 years ago, Michael Jordan hit “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo in Cleveland.
- 25 years ago this week, Pippen Sits Down as Kukoc Stands Tall in Game 3, 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals
- 8 Years ago this week, Taj Gibson Dunks on Wade in Game 1, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals After this dunk Taj Gibson was trending worldwide on Twitter, and with good reason. Gibson went up, over and through Dwyane Wade in what was the rudest dunk of 2011
- 8 Years ago this week, Derrick Rose was named as the youngest MVP in NBA history.
In celebration of episode #34, there are many Bulls players that have worn #34.
Charles Oakley, Stacey King, Bill Wennington, Mike Dunleavy and Wendell Carter Jr.
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY
We’re less than a week away from the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery. There are a lot of scenarios that can take place once the ping pong balls start flying on Tuesday May 14th. Ideally we want either the #1 or #2 pick to validate the reason behind our tanking efforts over the season. Horace Grant will be the Bulls representative in the 2019 NBA Lottery.
Let’s go over some of the scenarios that could happen, depending on if the ball bounces our way in the early selections of the draft.
Getting the #1 Overall Pick
Obviously this would be the ideal goal that would make tanking the last 3 seasons pay off. Getting the #1 pick would bring Zion Williamson to the Bulls, immediately changing the franchise. Getting Zion would elevate the Bulls to an immediate contender and probably propel the Bulls to return to the national spotlight when it comes to national TV schedules for years to come.
There is also the option that the Bulls would be able to trade DOWN to the #2 pick and deal away Zion for a prominent Veteran in exchange for the #2 pick and hopefully someone to take Felicio off our books to boot.
Getting the #2 Overall Pick
If the Bulls end up with the #2 pick, we would have the self-proclaimed “Point God” Ja Morant on the roster, fulfilling our desperate need for a quality point guard that can both score and dish out dimes at will.
Getting Picks 3-4
Here’s where it gets interesting. If we get the #3 pick, there is still an opportunity to get Ja Morant, depending on what teams get in with the first two picks. There is an off-chance that Morant would still be on the board if RJ Barrett fits the need of whoever gets the #2 pick.
If we get the #4 pick, it’s likely that we will pick up Jarrett Culver, the Shooting Guard from Texas Tech. Culver averaged 20.5 PTS, 7.1 REB, 4.1 AST, 0.6 BLK and 0.6 steals in his sophomore season.
Dropping in the Lottery (Pick #5 and lower)
If the Bulls fall to #5, it’s likely that we’ll grab either Cam Reddish, Small Forward from Duke, or Darius Garland, the Point Guard from Vanderbilt.
Anything past the #5 pick should be considered a trade piece. There are no more significant Point Guards worth noting beyond the #5 pick. The only other option that might be around in picks 5 or 6 would be De’Andre Hunter, small forward from Virginia or Coby White, the SG/PG combo from North Carolina.
Overall there a lot of different options coming for this year’s draft class. There still lies the possibility that we could trade up or down and include an existing player to do so. Next week’s draft lottery will give us all the answers we have been seeking over the course of the entire season. If we lose out in draft positioning, it will break the hearts of many Bulls fans.
I am afraid that we may drop down too far and a team like the Lakers, Pelicans, Timberwolves or Grizzlies will move up higher with a turn of Bulls bad luck. We were blessed before with the #1 pick when the odds were stacked against us and we ended up with rookie of the year and eventual league MVP Derrick Rose. Let’s hope that same luck is on our side when the ping pong balls start flying on May 14th. We will be back on the pod the day after the lottery to run down everything that happened and who we should go after.
Replacing Robin Lopez
If the Bulls wanted to keep Robin Lopez, we would be facing the prospect of a good, but not great Center in the NBA. He’s not getting any younger either. If anything, his aging wheels would be useful for a 1 year deal and we would start to seek another center in a year.
On the flipside of the issue, would Robin want to stay with the Bulls? Would it be more beneficial to him to sign with an immediate contender for a chance to win a ring?
Are there suitable replacements in the free agency market that the Bulls can get to replace Robin? Here are a few ideas that are worth considering if we decide against re-signing Robin Lopez. Ryan Heckman from Da Windy City Blog had a great post displaying some of the Bulls options to replace Robin Lopez, should either party decide to decline to keep Robin on the roster.
Remember, Lopez contract is $14 million. Remove that $14 million and another 3 Million that the Bulls have asked the league for as Cap Relief on Omer Asik’s contract. We would have potentially $28 million total in Cap Space for free agents.
Boban Marjanovic – Unrestricted. Current salary: $7 Million
30-year-old Boban Marjanovic has one of the more fun pronunciations in all of basketball, but he is more than just a name. Majanovic has been, for the most part, a journeyman over his four years in the NBA. However, his presence off the bench has always been consistent.
Marjanovic is one of those guys who has never received a plethora of minutes, but makes the most of the time he has on the floor. As a career 58.3 percent shooter from the floor, Marjanovic can score. Now, he won’t offer you much from outside, but his short range is strong.
Last year, after landing with the Philadelphia 76ers, Marjanovic averaged an impressive 5.1 rebounds in less than 14 minutes per game. The averages he posted while with Philadelphia were good for career-bests in points per game (8.2), rebounds per game, as well as field goal percentage (62.5).
Although he’s never had the opportunity, his per-36 minute trends are astounding as a backup big man: 22.7 points and 14.5 rebounds. Marjanovic is a perfect example of someone they could go get fairly cheap in order to solidify depth behind Carter.
Kosta Koufos – Unrestricted. Current salary: $8.7 Million
Another 30-year-old unrestricted free agent, Kosta Koufos, has also seen his fair share of NBA homes throughout the years. Koufos is a former first-round pick out of Ohio State back in 2008, when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz at no. 23 overall.
Playing for five franchises over his career, Koufos has primarily handled backup duties. Although, he played extensively as a starter on two occasions: In 2012-2013, Koufos started 81 games for the Denver Nuggets, and in 2016-2017 he started 62 games for the Sacramento Kings.
Last year, in Sacramento, he was used sparingly. Koufos played just 12 minutes per game while averaging 3.7 points and 4.2 rebounds. He has never been known as an offensive powerhouse, but more of a defensive big man. In fact, Koufos has never even attempted a single three-pointer in his entire career — 686 games.
You know what you’re going to get in Koufos. For his career, he is a 5-and-5 kind of guy. He’s averaged over five points and five rebounds per game for his career — pretty straight forward.
Koufos would give the Bulls decent depth behind Carter, and would bring a gritty, physical style to the backup spot. This would be the kind of guy Boylen is ideally looking for, whether Bulls fans like that or not.
Jahlil Okafor – Team Option. Current salary: $1.6 Million
There was once a time where Jahlil Okafor was the next big thing in basketball, and Chicagoans were all about him. Okafor played his high school basketball in Chicago, at Whitney Young, and Bulls fans once dreamt of seeing him in red and black.
Okafor played his college ball at Duke, and ended up going third overall in the 2015 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers. His rookie season, Okafor actually looked like he would pan out to be a strong player, averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. His rookie season ended with a torn meniscus, and since then he hasn’t seemed like the same guy.
Okafor’s biggest knock has always been a lack of defense or lack of intensity on that end of the floor.
Regardless of how he’s been viewed over the years, this past season should actually be considered a success. He played fairly well for the New Orleans Pelicans, averaging almost 16 minutes per game and giving his team 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.
At just 23 years old, the potential is still there for Okafor to truly turn his career around. He may not be the phenom everyone thought he could be coming out of high school, but there is still plenty of time for Okafor to develop further. Chicago might just be that place of familiarity he needs, and on a rebuilding team where he’d have an opportunity to play.
Nerlens Noel – Player Option. Current salary: $1.75 Million
There is a bit of a theme here. Like Okafor, Nerlens Noel was also headed to set the basketball world on fire as a youngster. Like Okafor, Noel was also taken in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. And, like Okafor, Noel no longer plays for the Sixers and has had, by most accounts, a disappointing pro career.
Coming out of Kentucky, Noel was kind of a mystery. During his only season in college, Noel looked like he would be one of the next elite big men in the NBA, and it was mainly due to his dominance on the defensive end. With the Wildcats, he averaged a ridiculous 4.4 rebounds per game.
Before his first and only college season ended back in 2013, Noel tore his ACL and saw his draft stock plummet. Still, he was a first-rounder and ended up sitting out his first season with Philadelphia. The following year, Noel played in 75 games, averaging over 30 minutes of game action.
Since his rookie season, though, his playing time has gone down and his effectiveness on the court has dwindled. The Bulls could take a flier on Noel as a cheap backup whom might offer a little help on the defensive end.
Aron Baynes – Player Option. Current salary: $5.2 Million
If you have watched the Boston Celtics over the last couple of seasons, especially in the playoffs, chances are you’ve had similar thoughts. Watching Aron Baynes, you’ll see just how difficult of a player he’d be to play against.
For whatever reason, he just seems like a tough task. He’s a tough, physical player on both ends of the floor and doesn’t have a whole lot of regard for staying away from contact.
Last year, he had to start quite a few games for the Celtics. This season, he’s taken a back seat to Al Horford, but still provides Boston with solid depth in the frontcourt as his minutes haven’t tapered off too much. The box scores will never blow you away, but Baynes’ hustle and effort with the little things will definitely impress.
Baynes could decide to opt-out of his contract and try finding a home elsewhere, as a starter. While Baynes wouldn’t currently be considered a starter on many other teams, there is the potential for him to make a little more money as an active member of a bench.
He is the kind of player Boylen would love to bring in, and if Baynes decided to opt-out of the final year of his deal, the Bulls may be in play.
Jim Boylen signs coaching contract extension
Back in April, John Paxson hinted that an extension for Boylen was very likely. As fans, we knew he wasn’t bluffing because this was exactly the kind of move the Bulls’ front office would make a mind-numbing, terrible decision.
We knew it was coming. We were warned. But, there was still the off-chance that the team ultimately decided to go a different direction. It was about a million-to-one odds, but there was always a chance.
Nope. Didn’t happen.
Then it became official. Boylen is going to be in Chicago for years to come, and because of it, the Bulls will continue to be who they’ve been over the last few seasons.
By extending Boylen, John Paxson and Gar Forman have assured fans that this rebuild is going to take quite a bit longer than all of us may have anticipated. They committed to a tough-nosed, borderline crazy head coach for multiple years, now.
There were better options available
Even as fans, we knew there were far better options out there than Boylen. The front office could have gone a dozen different directions instead, and most fans would have been happier than they are at this very moment.
One of the more popular names available is former Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger. His firing was pretty shocking to most, following this last season which saw him drastically turn the Kings around.
Monty Williams is another name the Bulls should have considered. He’s been around some great organizations over the last few years, such as the rising Philadelphia 76ers, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, prior to coaching in New Orleans for a while.
Luke Walton is another name that we could have gone for. The former Lakers head coach and Warriors assistant is young and has an NBA pedigree coming from his hall of fame father, Bill Walton.
One of the better fits, though, has to be Adrian Griffin. The former NBA veteran is now an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors and has been seen very active during the playoffs. He’s become someone who should be a favorite head coaching candidate around the NBA, in the near future.
Free agency will be even more difficult
Before the Boylen extension, the Bulls had little-to-no shot at landing any premium names in free agency — whether it be this year or next year.
Now that Boylen is extended, I have a hard time seeing any top-tier free agent (or even a mid-level caliber free agent) thinking to themselves, “You know, I was considering the Warriors, Lakers or Bucks. But, now that I know Boylen will be around for much longer, I’m thinking Chicago is an ideal fit for me.”
No self-respecting free agent is saying that. At all.
The Bulls nailed their own coffin this offseason by extending Boylen. They aren’t coming anywhere close to luring someone of significance to Chicago this summer. It’s not happening.
Until Boylen is inevitably fired, and the front office follows close behind, the Bulls will continue to be a laughing stock when it comes to free agency. No one wants to come to Chicago. It’s a sad reality we live in, but it’s the truth.
NBA Playoff Picks
Lessons of the playoffs:
It’s interesting to see what the playoffs have done to cement our opinions on the performance of certain teams. Teams like the Celtics have shown obvious cracks in the foundation. Kyrie Irving, for as good as he is, is not a very effective #1 option for the playoffs as a Celtic. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year WITHOUT Kyrie. In a press conference after a playoff loss, Irving stated he “Didn’t care” that he was 19-62 in the playoff series with the Bucks so far.
The hosts of the NBA on TNT had a lot to say about this…
Doing a quick Google search, here’s a history of things that Kyrie doesn’t care about:
- Kyrie Irving says he doesn’t care about regular season standings, wins.
- Kyrie Irving doesn’t care about the amount of shots he gets
- Kyrie Irving Doesn’t Care About Playing In Cleveland As Member Of Celtics
- Kyrie Irving said he doesn’t care about shots. He can get his shot whenever he wants, he said, and the entire building knows it. Said he has evolved with managing the game.
- Kyrie Irving doesn’t care about facing questions about Knicks rumors
- A smug Kyrie Irving doesn’t care that he never notified LeBron James he was leaving.
- Kyrie Irving Doesn’t Care How LeBron Felt After The Trade
And finally, here’s one that will probably see Kyrie out the door in Boston..
- The Kyrie Irving era in Boston may soon end, and some Celtics fans couldn’t care less.
That being said. Would Chicago be an ideal destination for Kyrie if things go south in Boston after the playoffs? Despite the headlines, Kyrie is an Elite point guard that would completely revolutionize the Bulls franchise if we were on the receiving end. Perhaps if we received pick #3 or #4 we could possibly pull it off. It’s doubtful and extremely unlikely though.
CLOSING: Next week we’ll be back with an NBA Draft Lottery recap. We’ll have a clear picture of who picks in what order. In addition, next week we’re going to give our predictions for MVP, DPOY, ROY, and most improved player.
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If you can’t remember any of these, you can check out our show notes for this show over at our website, which is BullsPodcast.com where we have all the links we mentioned in today’s show.
Remember we’re just 43 days away (June 20, 2019) from the NBA draft and only 6 Days away from the NBA Lottery!
Until next time, Thank you for listening everyone, Go Bulls!