It wasn’t for a lack of trying.
According to several league sources, the Bulls were actively looking to move up in Thursday’s NBA Draft, discussing trades with the Hawks at No. 3 and the Grizzlies at No. 4, and for good reason.
Once word got out that Marvin Bagley III would be going No. 2 to the Kings, general manager Gar Forman was doing what he could to get in on Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mohamed Bamba. It made sense, considering the Bulls have a great relationship with Jackson — coach Fred Hoiberg’s son, Jack, was his roommate at Michigan State — and were blown away by Bamba during his private workout, according to team sources.
The Hawks ended up trading down with the Mavericks at No. 5, leaving the Grizzlies with Jackson, and one pick before the Bulls’ turn, the Magic grabbed Bamba.
The Bulls still had a tough decision to make. A source said it came down to Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. or Alabama guard Collin Sexton
The focus of the team’s offense will continue to shift toward Lauri Markkanen, so adding protection in the paint weighed heavily in the decision.
The good news for Carter is that he’ll have a great mentor. Despite all the trade rumors last season, the Bulls kept Robin Lopez around for a reason.
“We respect Robin’s professionalism, how he plays,’’ vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “We view Robin as part of our future. Even as much as the game has changed, Robin gives us a solid foundation guy. You know what you’re gonna get from Robin every night. You’re gonna get effort, rebounding, scoring around the basket.
“The time he’s not been playing, he’s been working on his perimeter shot, working on his range. . . . I believe you can grow. No matter how old you are as a player, you can grow in some way. It can be mentally, some skill level. So, yeah, he fits our team and our culture.’’
Unless they get a can’t-refuse offer for him during the summer, expect Lopez to willingly take Carter under his wing, giving the Bulls the option to possibly trade Lopez at the deadline or simply let him walk after the 2018-19 season when his contract is up.
The Bulls were impressed with forward Michael Porter Jr.’s talent, but they didn’t love the medical reports.
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According to a source, there were still questions about Porter’s surgically repaired back holding up long term.
As far as all the hype surrounding small forward Mikal Bridges, the Sun-Times reported two weeks ago that the Bulls were less than impressed with him after his private workout.
His mental toughness raised several red flags.
Bridges went to the 76ers with the No. 10 pick, then was traded to the Suns.