The Bulls weren’t among the teams on stage for the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night, but they had a vested interest in the result – and things couldn’t have worked out better.
The New Jersey Nets, with the worst record during the regular season, had the best chance of gaining the top pick, and with it the chance to select John Wall of Kentucky or Evan Turner of Ohio State with the top pick.
The Nets, though, ended up with the third pick, meaning they won’t get a chance to select either of the top players in the draft.
So why is that important to the Bulls?
Well, the Nets are one of the teams with a lot of cap room this summer expected to make a run at signing LeBron James. If the Nets had won the lottery, they’d stand a better chance of convincing James they can make a quick turnaround from lottery losers to championship contenders.
Picking third, the Nets probably will get a good player, but not someone with unquestioned star potential like Wall, or even Turner, which makes their selling job to James that much more difficult.
The Washington Wizards came away with the top pick and the Philadelphia 76ers will select second. Neither is expected to be in the James sweepstakes.
Despite all of the speculation about where James will play next season since the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated from the playoffs last week, the only person with any idea about his future is James, and I doubt he’s made up his mind at this point. The free agent period doesn’t begin until July 1.
But it’s clear nothing that happened in the draft lottery hurt the Bulls’ chances of landing James. I still believe Chicago – with a talented young roster led by All-Star point guard Derrick Rose — is the best option if he decides to leave Cleveland.