CHICAGO--On the sixth anniversary of selecting Derrick Rose, the Bulls didn't have the No. 1 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
But they own a No. 1 target. And he was drafted third overall 11 years ago.
Everything the Bulls do these days has free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony in the background, and that includes their acquisition of NCAA national player of the year Doug McDermott.
In the last draft night at the soon-to-be-vacated Berto Center, the Bulls packaged picks 16 and 19 and a 2015 second-round pick for the rights to McDermott, whom they had scouted heavily and the Nuggets drafted with the 11th pick. Although the two-for-one move only saved the Bulls about $329,000, it could make Mike Dunleavy and his expiring $3.3 million deal expendable.
The Bulls also absorbed Anthony Randolph's expiring $1.825 million deal, which general manager Gar Forman said the Nuggets demanded be included, into a trade exception the Luol Deng deal created. That added salary but signaled how much the Bulls coveted McDermott, who averaged 26.7 points his senior season at Creighton.
As a four-year player, McDermott fits the draft profile of experience that Forman and top basketball executive John Paxson favor. McDermott shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range.
"What excites us about Doug is we feel he's more than a shooter," Forman said. "He's a guy who is crafty with the ball, can create his own shot, can go in the post some, has a quick release whether it's from the perimeter or outside."
Coach Tom Thibodeau worked with McDermott last summer with USA Basketball.
"If you view him as strictly a shooter, you're not casting the proper light on him," Thibodeau said. "He's a lot more than that. We think he's a complete player. We think he's capable of playing very good defense."
McDermott even attended a Bulls-Wizards playoff game. And he hails from Ames, Iowa, home to the same Iowa State that once employed Forman and former Bulls coach Tim Floyd.
"I knew watching that game that I was the perfect fit for them," McDermott said. "I think I can bring so much. With D-Rose coming back, I can play off him so well because he draws so much attention."
McDermott already has the college connection with fellow Creighton product and former Bull Kyle Korver, whom he joked he outjumped in the vertical test at the combine.
In the second round, the Bulls added power forward Cameron Bairstow, who played with Tony Snell at UNLV, with the 49th pick.
Now the focus shifts to free agency. The Bulls would have only $11 million to $12 million of salary-cap space if they use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, so additional moves would have to be made to gain Anthony, whom the Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers also covet.
Randolph can be traded individually but not in a multi-player deal.
Speaking to reporters in New York before the draft about his six-player trade with the Mavericks on Wednesday, Knicks President Phil Jackson reiterated he "challenged" Anthony to take less money to give the Knicks the ability to sign other players. Perhaps most tellingly, Jackson wouldn't comment when asked if he would consider a sign-and-trade for the All-Star forward.
The trade changed the Knicks' financial picture for this summer and next. That could open them to sign-and-trade possibilities they previously might not have considered if Anthony is set to leave. If those include Boozer, that's the Bulls' dream scenario, although Jackson has shown no interest yet.
Acquiring Anthony via a sign-and-trade would keep the Bulls above the cap and allow them to use exceptions to add more pieces like possibly Nikola Mirotic or D.J. Augustin. But there are, obviously, no guarantees Anthony will leave the Knicks, who still can pay him more than any other team.
"We don't have near the type of cap room we had in 2010," Forman said. "We're going to have to be creative."
That the Bulls didn't top the small price the Nuggets paid earlier in the day for Arron Afflalo means they liked McDermott better, have bigger plans down the road -- or both.
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