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updated: 6/22/2014 12:22 AM

As draft approaches, lots of options for Bulls

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  • For the Bulls to acquire Carmelo Anthony, shown here with Denver in 2009, they'll have to make some tough decisions with their draft picks this week.

      For the Bulls to acquire Carmelo Anthony, shown here with Denver in 2009, they'll have to make some tough decisions with their draft picks this week.
    Associated Press

 
 

Most of the Bulls chatter this month focused on big ticket players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love.

Keep in mind, though, the guy who just won Finals MVP -- San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard -- was the No. 15 pick of the 2011 draft.

After LeBron's relocation to South Beach, the Spurs trading George Hill to the Pacers for Leonard was the most significant NBA transaction of the past four years.

The Bulls currently own the No. 16 and 19 selections in Thursday's NBA draft and those picks could end up being the ticket to improvement. But the Bulls are also trying to make a run at Anthony this summer. The draft picks might need to be sacrificed in the name of cap space.

So what will the Bulls do with their picks? Here are some options:

Trade up

One way to save money is to turn those two draft picks into one higher selection. There's a good comparison in last year's draft. Minnesota sent the No. 9 overall pick to Utah for picks No. 14 and 21.

So adding the 21st pick allowed the Jazz to move up five spots.

In theory, the Bulls should be able to make a similar jump from No. 16, but it all depends on the trading partner and players available.

Last year, Minnesota was in a spot where point guard Trey Burke was on the board at No. 9 and it already had Ricky Rubio slated as its point guard of the future.

This year, Denver picks No. 11 and the Nuggets might be willing to trade down. Orlando at No. 12 already has multiple first-rounders, so it's unlikely to be interested.

Minnesota is No. 13 and could be a possible trade partner, but it all depends on how much those teams like the players available with the higher pick.

If the Bulls kept the No. 16 and 19 picks, those players would require $2.73 million of cap space. Trading up for the No. 11 selection would drop that number to $1.9 million, since the Bulls would be adding just one first-rounder instead of two.

So in addition to moving up to get a potentially better player, the Bulls would also save money by moving up in the draft -- if they can find a trade partner ... and that's a big if in a strong draft.

Draft and wait

The Bulls won't be able to negotiate with Anthony until July 1, five days after the draft. So they might decide to make the picks and see what happens on the free agent front. If Anthony doesn't work out, the Bulls just keep the players they selected.

If the Bulls decide they do need to clear cap space or want to include the draft picks in a sign-and-trade deal, the picks can be traded anytime if they are unsigned. Or they can be traded 30 days after they sign contracts.

The second option might actually work better for the Bulls if they end up with a deal to send assets back to New York for Anthony. Once draft picks are signed, their actual salary counts in trades and, in theory, the Bulls could give Anthony more money in a sign-and-trade than they could if he simply signed as a free agent.

Another possibility is draft a player who could stay in Europe for at least a year, maybe Switzerland native Clint Capela. Then that player's rookie salary would not count against the Bulls' cap space, but they'd keep his rights.

Trade the picks now

The Bulls could try to trade this year's draft picks for future selections.

The future picks would probably be worse than what they have now, but at least the Bulls would get to use them someday.

Trading away this year's picks to clear cap space would be sacrificing assets.

The downside to this plan is if the Bulls traded for future picks, then can't acquire Anthony, they have no first-round rookies next season. Of course in 2010, the Bulls gave away Kirk Hinrich on draft night so they'd have enough cap space to sign LeBron James and another full-boat free agent.

Potential reward usually comes with risk.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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