Bulls

Could landing Michael Porter or Mikal Bridges speed up the Bulls’ timetable?

Praying to win the lucky-door prize like some 82-year-old retiree at the weekly bingo hall isn’t exactly how John Paxson wants to spend his Aprils.

The Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations greeted what went down Friday with a smile on his face, but he doesn’t want to make a habit of it.

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After a random drawing, the Bulls moved ahead of the Kings, and, as long as nothing changes in the May 15 lottery, they’ll hold the sixth pick in the June 21 draft.

They have a 5.3 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick and an 18.3 percent chance to land in the top three, but the first step was just getting one over on the Kings.

That at least puts the Bulls in a better position to find that wing Paxson covets, possibly Michael Porter Jr. or Mikal Bridges.

Paxson, however, also made it clear that building a roster in this manner doesn’t fit his personality.

“We did this year what we felt was in the long-term best interests of the Bulls,’’ Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us wants to ever be in again. It goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in, but it’s the way the system is set up.

“To be very honest, we believe we’ve done it the right way. Last summer, we embarked on a rebuild [by trading Jimmy Butler]. We had a very young roster. Every time we put out a lineup, even after the All-Star break, it was to watch players play.

“I believe, having played in the league and been around the league, that the only way to find out about players is to give them consistent minutes over consistent amounts of time, consistent amounts of games. That doesn’t mean three or four or five. You have to give guys 20, 25 games. That has to be the sample size.’’

Call it tanking or label it player development, either way, it was a must position for the Bulls.

The organization concluded that it has three very good building blocks — Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn — even if it’s not sure how well they can function together. The Bulls also have a strong veteran leader in Robin Lopez and three solid bench pieces in David Nwaba, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine.

The team is missing a versatile small forward who can add some scoring punch and strengthen a leaky defense.

That’s where Porter or Bridges comes in, and that’s why possibly jumping ahead of the Kings was huge because they could be shopping for the same type of player.
If the Bulls land one of those two, Paxson might have a better feel for how long this rebuild could take.

“That’s a good question, and I don’t know how far away [the Bulls are from becoming a playoff team again],’’ Paxson said. “You never know what other teams are going to do, but all we can do is worry about ourselves.

“I do know that if you look at how we’re set up with our youth, how we’re going to add more youth to it, Philly is the model for what they did for all those years, and now look at them. They got some high draft picks, they hit on a few of them and now they’re in a [great] position.’’