Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Look for Bulls to keep both draft picks
By Nick Friedell
James Johnson was a miss for the Bulls, but Taj Gibson was a draft find.
The draft workouts at the Berto Center have already begun for the Bulls, who have Nos. 28 and 30 in the first round on June 23.
It's doubtful the Bulls will make a major move on draft night. The last thing they want to do is add another high-salaried player because of the uncertainty of the impending lockout and new collective bargaining agreement.
The safer bet is the Bulls will decide to make both selections. Yes, first-round contracts are guaranteed, but the salaries are relatively cheap and the Bulls need to fill out their bench. At present, the Bulls roster is fairly set. No matter whom the Bulls select, it will be tough to crack the rotation next season, especially given that the lockout will probably last so long that it will knock out all league sanctioned summer leagues and could wipe out any regular version of summer workouts and training camp.
The Bulls will be content to draft two players and let them learn Tom Thibodeau's system for a year or two.
Now, as for who those players might be, it's a crapshoot. The Bulls know that better than anybody given their recent history in the draft. With the 16th pick in the 2009 draft they selected James Johnson. He underperformed and never seemed to make a solid impression on former coach Vinny Del Negro or Thibodeau. In February, the Bulls dealt him to the Toronto Raptors for another first-round pick in this year's draft. The Bulls may have whiffed on Johnson, but they hit big on forward Taj Gibson, a player they selected with the 26th pick in the same 2009 draft. He has become an integral part of their bench and a reliable defender that both Del Negro and Thibodeau grew to love.
The feeling among Bulls fans is that the team should go after a shooting guard with one of their selections and give the team some more depth at a position they were lacking consistent scoring from last season. They could also decide to pick up a third point guard to give Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson another insurance policy, or another young big man to replace veteran Kurt Thomas on the roster if the team decides not to re-sign him.
The one thing you can be sure of is the organization will bring in someone to fit in well with the locker room chemistry the team has built up over the past year. The organization believes that was a major strength and takes character very seriously when evaluating players.
The bottom line as far as the Bulls' draft plans are concerned is don't look for any player the team selects in the first round to make a major impact next season. The Bulls are just hoping to catch lighting in a bottle like they did with Gibson, but they know their roster is in good shape going forward either way.