What price are Chicago Bulls willing to pay to move up in NBA draft?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) gestures during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State, in Austin, Texas. Kansas won 67-64. Bamba is expected to be taken in Thursday's NBA Draft.

    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) gestures during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State, in Austin, Texas. Kansas won 67-64. Bamba is expected to be taken in Thursday's NBA Draft.

 
 
Updated 6/21/2018 6:25 AM

Sit and wait or get aggressive?

That's not really a choice for the Chicago Bulls. They are surely exploring what it would take to move up in Thursday's NBA draft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But it takes at least two teams to complete a trade, so the draft-night path could be out of their hands.

If they stay at No. 7, the Bulls should be able to add a player who fits their needs. Michael Porter Jr. or Mo Bamba; Wendell Carter Jr. or Mikal Bridges, maybe Trae Young -- some of those guys will still be on the board when the Bulls' turn arrives.

As draft night draws closer, it appears Phoenix is set on taking center DeAndre Ayton with the top pick and Sacramento is leaning toward Marvin Bagley III second.

Atlanta at No. 3 and Memphis at No. 4 have been mentioned as teams willing to trade down. The Grizzlies' situation is interesting.

Let's say the Hawks decide to take Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic with the third pick. Now what does Memphis do, when Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mo Bamba both reportedly refused to work out for the Grizz?

It has been widely speculated the Grizzlies would give up the No. 4 slot if a team is willing to take on the contract of Chandler Parsons, who has two years and $49 million left on his deal.

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The question is, what price does a team pay to move up a few spots in the first round? The answer is not $49 million. The Bulls took on $14 million in unwanted salary from New Orleans to get the No. 22 pick.

What if the Bulls traded for Parsons, sending Cristiano Felicio and Omer Asik to Memphis? That would be a roughly $11 million savings for the Grizzlies.

Would the Bulls be willing to pay that price to move up three spots? Would the New York Knicks make a better offer? These are some of the questions that could be resolved in the hours before the draft begins.

If the Bulls could pull off such a move, they'd have a choice between Porter, Bamba and Jackson. Bamba might turn out to be the next big thing in the NBA, with his quick feet and unprecedented 7-foot-10 wingspan. If Bamba's jumper improves, he could be dominant on both ends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Jackson has been moving up in most of the mock drafts because he might be the most accomplished offensive player among the big men in this year's draft. Jackson can hit 3s, put the ball on the floor, and he was a very good shot-blocker last year at Michigan State.

The Bulls know him well because Jackson's road roommate at MSU was Jack Hoiberg, son of the Bulls' head coach.

Porter might have the best chance of being available with the No. 7 pick. The mobile, 6-11 forward played in just three games as a freshman at Missouri because of a back injury.

At the NBA combine in Chicago last month, Porter told reporters he originally injured his back as a high school sophomore and was not 100 percent healthy while becoming the top-ranked player in the country.

Porter played just two minutes in his college debut last November and had surgery roughly 10 days later. He had a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs in his lower back. Repairing a ruptured disc is a common procedure and shouldn't be a long-term injury, but some teams may be concerned that two discs were affected.

Getting back to trade possibilities, it's tough to know what it would take for Atlanta to trade down from No. 3. Would the No. 22 pick and maybe some salary absorption -- Miles Plumlee's $25 million over two years is an obvious target -- be enough to get it done?

The Bulls won't be eager to give up any of their three main rebuilding pieces -- Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine -- and it's not clear how much trade value there is to anybody else on the roster.

If the Bulls can't move up, would they move down, maybe taking Nos. 12 and 13 from the Clippers? Would they pull a surprise and select someone such as Kentucky's Kevin Knox, whose length and age may provide more upside at forward than Bridges?

Answers to those questions should arrive shortly after 6 p.m. on Thursday.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls.

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