No Such Luck
The ninth pick remains an insanely valuable chit given this year's deep draft. Rumors are that Roy Hibbert will withdraw from the draft, which is a shame. I thought an athletic front line of Hibbert, Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, and throwing outlets to Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni was probably the Bulls' best bet to be something unique and very, very good.
Nevertheless, good options remain. I suspect the Zach Randolph rumors are nonsense. Still some kind of sign and trade packaging Andres Nocionin and whoever the ninth pick is for Randolph would make a modicum of sense. Portland will have Greg Oden and Lamarcus Aldridge to man the middle, and Nocioni would allow them to part ways with Darius Miles, which the Blazers would apparently love to do. The Bulls meanwhile would have Wallace, Randolph and Thomas up front, with Deng, Sefolosha, Gordon, Hinrich and Duhon in the back court. That team contends for the Eastern Conference title.
A more realistic option, I believe, is the Bulls moving up, probably with the Celtics, to take Yi Jianlian. John Paxson apparently loves the tall, versatile Chinese forward. He is big, and can score from anywhere on the floor. Yi will not be a foreign bust. I also think he'd fit in well with the Bulls high paced attack. If Thomas can guard centers, and there are few in the league right now big enough and skilled enough to be a problem, then he and Yi could make a dynamic duo for the future. Thomas, Yi and Deng might be the most athletic, exciting, and talented front line in the NBA one day.
But what would the cost be to move up? And is it worth paying when a player meeting the Bulls' immediate need will likely be available at nine? The Bulls need a guy who can settle on the block and score in the half court when teams slow it down and take away the Bulls pick and roll/pop game. Spencer Hawes is the most gifted post scorer in this draft, and he's a really good one at that. Everyone compares him to Vlade Divac. Don't you think Divac would have helped this team? Plus, he's a good enough face-up jump shooter to play pick and pop with Hinrich too. Again, Wallace, Hawes, Thomas, Deng, Nocioni, Gordon, Hinrich, Sefolosha and Duhon is the rotation of a legitimate contender.
The ping pong balls may not have bounced the Bulls' way last night. But that's no reason not to be very excited about this off-season, and the team's future.