The Chicago Bulls are facing a surprising period of uncertainty right now.
Two months ago they were the top seed in the Eastern Conference, had the best young player in the game in reigning MVP Derrick Rose, and looked to be on a path to the NBA Finals for the first time since Michael Jordan retired for the last time.
Luol Deng could be on the move to another team.
Now, after one fluke play on April 28, in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers their entire organization is in flux.
Rose toke his ACL late in that game. Conservative estimates have him missing six months, and when he returns he will likely be a shadow of his former self, at least initially. That doubt has allowed the Heat to assume the mantle of "kings" of the Eastern Conference.
With that in mind, there have been rumblings that the Bulls are shopping two of their starters around the league in an effort to move up in the draft, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls preference, according to multiple reports, would be to ship Deng and their first round selection (at number 29) to another team for a trade exemption and a high pick, perhaps as high as the top five.
The Bulls need help on the wing, and they will look to target Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the high level pick. In Chicago's view, they need a player who can take some of the pressure off of Rose and either of those two would fit the bill.
Kidd-Gilchrist may be wishful thinking for the Bulls as he is not expected to fall past the Charlotte Bobcats at number two. Barnes is not quite such a pipe dream; he should be available with the fifth pick, a spot that Sacramento has already expressed interest moving out of.
It has been reported that Sacramento has a deal in place with Houston that involves Kyle Lowry, Tyreke Evans as well as number 14 and 16 picks, but the Kings would like to find a better deal that doesn't involve them giving up Evans.
If they dealt with Chicago, they would lose their top pick, but could likely keep a slot in the first round by swapping picks with the Bulls. The Kings probably wouldn't have much interest in Noah as they have DeMarcus Cousins patrolling the paint.
But a starting five of Evans, John Salmons, Deng, Jason Thompson and Cousins would certainly be an upgrade over a deal that simply switches out Lowry for Evans.
The deal would also allow Sacramento to keep Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas while adding a late first round pick to the rotation.
For the Bulls it would allow them to replace Deng, who has been one of the more disappointing parts of their starting five, at least relative to his salary, with a younger, cheaper version in Barnes.
That is just one of several options the Bulls have if they want to pull the trigger to get into the top of this year's draft. Expect them to be active early, looking for a way to reshape their team in light of the uncertainty they now face.
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