Bulls watch the lottery balls bounce the wrong way, end up at No. 7 overall
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Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson was not enjoying himself Tuesday night.
There was too big of a crowd crammed into the Palmer House Hilton and too many cameras. It just wasn’t the place he wanted to be.
And that was before the lottery balls betrayed his organization.
The Bulls finally found out their fate in the NBA draft lottery, and it wasn’t exactly home cookin’ with the event held in Chicago.
The Kings came out the big winners, making the jump from No. 7 to No. 2, which pushed the Bulls back from No. 6 to the seventh spot.
Paxson and general manager Gar Forman will have that pick and the 22nd pick they acquired from the Pelicans in the Nikola Mirotic trade in the June 21 draft.
It’s a far cry from 2008, when the Bulls entered the lottery with only a 1.7 percent chance to land the top pick, then defied the odds by hitting No. 1 pay dirt and eventually coming away with Derrick Rose.
But the front office wasn’t feeling sorry for itself, or at least it was trying not to.
“Nah, not [a setback] at all,’’ Paxson said. “You always go in hoping for some good fortune, getting a little lucky. That obviously didn’t happen with Sacramento going up, bumping us back a spot, but we’ve said all along that we’re confident we’ll get a player that we like.
“Drafts are always unpredictable. Every time you look back at them, certain players would have been drafted higher than they were. We saw that last year. We got a pretty good one last year at No. 7 with Lauri [Markkanen]. We’ll do our work, and we’re confident that we’ll add a piece to the puzzle. It all goes back to the choice we made last year, and we know that we’re in a different phase for the organization. We’re going to continue to be patient and make good decisions.’’
The Suns landed the No. 1 pick, having the best chance to do so and holding serve. The other team to make a slight jump was the Hawks, who moved to the No. 3 spot.
This draft might not match last year’s class, but there’s definitely some talent to be had with big men Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Mo Bamba, guards Trae Young and Collin Sexton and wings Michael Porter Jr. and Mikal Bridges.
At least that’s what Paxson is hoping for once the predraft camp and the interview process begin.
“You never really know until it does play out,’’ Paxson said. “I think there are some unique players in this draft. You have some bigs that have some talents that could blossom into something special. You have some guards whose talents at the college level were pretty special. And you have some wings, too.
“But it’s always difficult because so many of these kids are young, and you need to see how they develop and grow into their NBA games. Is there much difference between six and seven? I’m not sure there is a whole lot of difference between four, five and 10. A lot of it you look at it by position, but we’re fine with it. We would have loved to be lucky [Tuesday], but we weren’t, and we have to be fine with that.’’