A history of the Bulls moving up and down in the NBA Draft originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com
There's been plenty of talk about what the Bulls might do with the No. 7 pick in next month's NBA Draft. They could attempt to put a package together in order to move up, they could acquire future assets while moving back or they could stay there and pick at No. 7 for a third straight season.
Moving up or down on draft night is risky business. As the Bulls have shown the last 20 years, it's a chance to win big but can also mean significant setbacks. Here's a look at the seven times since 2001 the Bulls have moved up or down on draft night. Some will make you smile. Others will make you cry.
2001: Bulls move up to get Tyson Chandler 2nd overall
The Bulls knew they had something special in Elton Brand when the Duke product won Rookie of the Year after averaging 20.1 points and 10.0 rebounds in his first season and followed it up with another 20-10 season as a sophomore. But there were two intriguing high-school options in the draft that summer, and Jerry Krause jumped at the opportunity to add both. They dealt Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the second overall pick, which they used on Tyson Chandler. They spent the fourth pick on Eddy Curry, the local product from Thornwood HS. To make matters worse, Pau Gasol went 3rd overall to the Vancouver Grizzlies.
We all know what happened. Curry was a bust from the moment he stepped on the floor, while Chandler never panned out in five seasons with the Bulls. He resurrected his career in a big way during stops in New Orleans, Dallas and New York, earning both an NBA title (with Dallas) and a Defensive Player of the Year award (in New York). But that wasn't much consolation for the Bulls, who entered some dark days with their young centers. Brand, meanwhile, went on make a pair of All-Star appearances while averaging 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in seven seasons with the Clippers.
2004: Bulls move up to get Luol Deng 7th overall
The next time the Bulls decided to add another top-10 pick turned out much better than the previous one. The Bulls had already selected Ben Gordon with the 3rd overall pick when they swung a deal with the Phoenix Suns to acquire the seventh overall pick for a future first-round pick and the rights to Jackson Vroman. The seventh pick? Some kid from Duke named Luol Deng. All Deng would do in Chicago was average 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 10 seasons, make two All-Star teams and become the face of the franchise during the ugly Derrick Rose injury days.
The trade actually made sense for the Suns at the time. The Bulls were the league's worst team and weren't showing any real signs of improving, even with Gordon and Deng in the fold. The first-round pick the Bulls gave up was top-3 protected in 2005, top-1 protected in 2006 and unprotected in 2007. As it turns out, the Bulls made a huge jump, qualified for the postseason and wound up giving the Suns the 21st overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. As for Vroman? He played 10 games fro the Suns, averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 5.7 minutes. Yeah. Bulls win.
2006: Bulls move down to get Tyrus Thomas 4th overall, move up to get Thabo Sefolosha
We wouldn't blame you for skipping over this one entirely. The Bulls drafted Texas power forward LaMarcus Aldridge with the second overall pick. Nicely done, Bulls! Move on and look to the future. Nope. The Bulls shipped Aldridge's rights to the Portland Trail Blazers for...fourth overall pick Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa, the 22nd overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft who had averaged 5.8 points in 21.6 minutes the previous season in Portland.
You know the rest. Aldridge put together a remarkable run with the Blazers, averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds over nine seasons, four of which included All-Star appearances. He's a borderline Hall of Famer, now posting eye-popping numbers in San Antonio with Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Thomas? Well, he was fun to watch but maddening at the same time. He averaged 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds over four-plus seasons in Chicago and was out of the NBA by age 28. Khryapa? He appeared in 42 games for the Bulls over two seasons, averaging 2.5 points on 38.6% shooting. The Bulls bought out his contract early in Year 2 and he returned to Russia to play professionally.
The other trade wasn't so bad. They moved up from No. 16 to No. 13 to draft Sefolosha, who became a talented wing defender in two-plus seasons with the Bulls. But he truly blossomed in Oklahoma City, where the Bulls traded him in 2009. He just finished up his 13th NBA season by averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Utah Jazz.
2010: Bulls move out of draft to acquire additional cap space
The Bulls were trying to clear up as much cap space as possible in the summer of 2010 to make a run at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in free agency. Before those early July meetings happened, the Bulls made a draft night trade to do just that. They attached the 17th overall pick to Kirk Hinrich's salary and sent it to the Washington Wizards. The deal saved the Bulls about $10 million in salary cap space (Hinrich's contract + what they would have paid the first-round pick) and gave them more than $30 million in available money to offer free agents that summer.
Of course, James and Wade (and Chris Bosh) chose to join the Miami Heat, where they won two championships and made four NBA Finals appearances in a four-year span. The Bulls used that salary cap space to sign Carlos Boozer and add some pieces that would become the Bench Mob. As for that 17th pick? Kevin Seraphin, a 6-foot-9 power forward, averaged 6.4 points in five uneventful seasons with the Wizards. He was out of basketball by the time he was 27 years old.
2011: Bulls move up to get Nikola Mirotic
The Bulls held the Nos. 28 and 30 picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. We all know they used the No. 30 pick to draft Jimmy Butler, but it was their decision to send that 28th pick plus cash to the Miami Heat for the 23rd pick that went under the radar. The Bulls used that 23rd pick to take international power forward Nikola Mirotic, who wound up coming to Chicago three years later in 2014. Mirotic was an instant hit, finishing runner-up for Rookie of the Year in his first season at 23 years old. He was inconsistent at times but proved to be an excellent pick for the Bulls, averaging 11.4 points and 1.8 3-pointers in four seasons. He also netted the Bulls a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft when they dealt him to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Miami came out winners in the trade, too, as Norris Cole - the 28th pick - was a key (and cheap) piece for the Heat during their championship runs with James, Wade and Bosh.
2014: Bulls move up to get Doug McDermott
This was supposed to be a double win for the Bulls. Given their ties to Ames, Iowa, it was no secret that the front office was enamored with the thought of drafting Creighton's Doug McDermott, the Naismith National Player of the Year as a senior. But it was difficult to see a way that the sharpshooter fell to Nos. 14 or 16, where the Bulls were picking in the 2014 NBA Draft. The good news, at the time, was that the Bulls were also looking to clear as much cap space as possible for a run at Carmelo Anthony the following month.
So they found a trade partner in Denver at No. 11, dealing the 14th and 16th picks in exchange for McDermott. It gave the Bulls the player they originally wanted and saved them some cap space in not having to pay two rookies.
The bad news? McDermott did next to nothing in Chicago and the Nuggets' two picks have proven to be real talents. McDermott averaged 8.2 points in 161 career games for the Bulls before being added as part of the infamous Cam Payne Trade in 2017. He's played for five NBA teams in six seasons, most recently signing a three-year deal with Indiana in 2018.
The Nuggets took Gary Harris at No. 14 and Jusuf Nurkic at No. 16. Harris is one of the better wing defenders in the NBA despite an injury-riddled 2018 campaign. Nurkic was a solid piece in Denver but really blossomed after they traded him to the Blazers in 2017. It's not a sure bet that the Bulls would have taken Harris and Nurkic, but they could have done much better than McDermott (and Anthony wound up signing with the Knicks in free agency, so the saved cap space didn't do anything).
2017: Bulls move up to get Lauri Markkanen
At the time, the Jimmy Butler trade was much more about the NBA player pieces involved, but the Bulls technically moved up in the draft. The Bulls and Timberwolves swapped first-round picks in 2017, and that proved to be a significant part of the deal. The Bulls had Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis on their roster but there was a clear consensus as to who the best player available was when they went on the clock. They wound up drafting Arizona's Lauri Markkanen and it's turned out to be one of the most promising picks in franchise history.
In two seasons, Markkanen has averaged 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 3-pointers per game. He's a foundation piece of the Bulls' rebuild and is on an All-Star trajectory. The Timberwolves drafted Creighton center Justin Patton (who was injured at the time) with the 16th pick and he appeared in just one game. He was again attached to a Jimmy Butler trade when Minnesota dealt their disgruntled All-Star to the Philadelphia 76ers last November. Patton was part of that deal, and played in three games for the Sixers. Advantage: Bulls.