- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Chicago Bulls could go in many directions with the 16th and 19th selections in the NBA draft Thursday night.
As they prepare their pitches to Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and others for the start of free agency on Tuesday, the Bulls might not make a pick at all and instead trade one or both to clear cap space.
They have always been high on Creighton's Doug McDermott and will continue to look at ways to possibly move up to get him, especially if he slides a bit. ESPN Insider Chad Ford has McDermott going to the Charlotte Hornets with the ninth pick in his final mock draft.
Michigan's Nik Stauskas, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard who connected on 44 percent of 3-pointers in two seasons as a Wolverine, is also a possibility if the Bulls can move up in the draft, since it looks like he will be a top-12 pick. Ford says the Bulls are trying to package their picks to move up to grab McDermott or Stauskas.
But the Bulls also need to add to their big-man rotation. If the Bulls decide to stay at 16 and 19, I think they will select Adreian Payne from Michigan State with one of those picks.
Payne provides a big presence (6-10, 239 pounds) and has the ability to knock down jumpers, connecting on 42 percent of 3-pointers as a senior. He comes from a strong program and stayed all four years, both checkmarks that the Bulls like when deciding whom to draft. At 23, Payne is also older than most other rookies, as Taj Gibson was when the Bulls selected him with the 26th pick in 2009 at age 24.
I don't believe the Bulls will end up holding on to both picks. Whether it's a trade, or a move that would come later, I'd be very surprised if the Bulls brought two first-round picks to training camp.
If the organization decides to hold on to both selections, look for them to pick a European player they could stash, as they have done with Nikola Mirotic. A player such as Dario Saric of Croatia would fit the bill. He just signed to play in Turkey for two more seasons.
The Bulls could wait and see how he performs, but more importantly in the short term, the Bulls would not have to worry about paying him this season.