Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Bulls didn’t draft Cooper Flagg on Wednesday.

But they increased their ability to put themselves in position to potentially do so. And by selecting Matas Buzelis with the 11th pick in the first round of the NBA’s two-day NBA Draft, they continued the potential rebuild that management may soft-shoe as a retool that began with last week’s trade of Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey.

Make no mistake: Not only is Zach LaVine available for trade, the Bulls are open for business. And with growing buzz that DeMar DeRozan will be elsewhere next season, either via a sign-or-trade or simply walking in unrestricted free agency, the buzzword is no longer competitiveness.

It’s Cooper.

The Bulls need to finish in the bottom 10 next season to keep the protected first-round pick they owe the San Antonio Spurs in the DeRozan sign-and-trade acquisition from August 2021. That’s the month that Artūras Karnišovas and his staff remade the Bulls with a vision that led the Eastern Conference until Lonzo Ball’s left knee required the first of multiple surgeries.

Management, having already cashed out a rebuild centered on Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and others that it inherited upon getting hired, had tried to remain competitive after one playoff season. Instead, the Bulls failed to exit the Play In Tournament in two straight seasons.

And so now, by adding a dynamic guard with upside in Giddey, drafting a 19-year-old in Matas Buzelis and all signs pointing to the Bulls re-signing Patrick Williams in restricted free agency, a youth movement could be afoot.

The Bulls liked Ron Holland II, per sources, who went to the Detroit Pistons with the fifth overall pick. But Buzelis was widely expected to be gone by the Bulls’ 11th pick.

In fact, after holding conversations to move up in the draft with Donovan Clingan as a potential target or back with another local kid, Terrence Shannon Jr., as a possibility, the Bulls fully expected somebody high on their draft board to be available at No. 11.

That somebody is Buzelis, a 6-foot-9-inch forward who was born and raised in Chicago, played for Hinsdale Central for one year and played for G League Ignite last season.

Buzelis spoke to NBC Sports Chicago in March about the hypothetical of playing for the Bulls.

“I’d feel good about it,” he said then. “Hometown hero! It’d be fun to play for Chicago. Just watching them when I was younger, watching Derrick Rose play. It’d be a dope experience. … We would go to games often when the Grizzlies would play them because one of my Dad’s clients, who he works with, plays for the Grizzlies.”

Providence guard Devin Carter, long linked to the Bulls, was available. Given that he’s projected to be more plug-and-play than Buzelis, it’s another sign that the Bulls are playing the long game here.

“I’m ready to work,” Buzelis said on the ESPN broadcast.

There will be ample opportunity in what is suddenly a youth movement with Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips also on the roster.

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#Bulls #selection #Matas #Buzelis #continues #youth #movement #NBC #Sports #Chicago

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