We interrupt the LeBron Watch to remind you that the NBA draft is just two days away, and as of this moment, the Bulls still hold the 17th pick.
So, what are they going to do with that pick?
If they keep it, I'd expect them to use the proverbial "best player available" philosophy. By almost all accounts, this is a weak draft once you get outside of the top four or five picks. It shouldn't surprise anyone that there's been talk over the past few days that the Bulls are receptive to trading the pick. If they can clear out more cap space and use the pick as a bargaining chip, they'd be happy to unload it. Having said that, the team is going to be hard pressed to get rid of their bigger deals -- we're looking at you, Luol Deng's contract. The guess here is that if the Bulls can get something in future value for Kirk Hinrich and this year's pick they'll pull the trigger on a deal to clear up even more cap space for this year's free agent crop.
If they decide to keep the pick, here are a few of the players they might take with the 17th pick on Thursday night …
Larry Sanders, PF, VCU
Sanders would be used as a backup for Joakim Noah down low and would become an insurance policy if the Bulls don't re-sign Brad Miller and/or Omer Asik, the team's 2008 draft pick who is expected to be in training camp, isn't the player the organization thinks he may become. Sanders has a 91-inch wingspan and would surely be an upgrade over Jerome James, in the sense that he may be the backup forward/center who could play meaningful minutes in an actual game.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
Anderson sounds like the type of player you hear about coming into every draft. "The athletic two guard who can score …" The Bulls could certainly use another athletic guard, but there's no telling if Anderson will be around for the team to select him. As my collegeague Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston points out in his profile of Anderson, there is a lot of speculation that teams will trade up to take the wingman. The good news for Bulls fans is that ESPN's player evaluation of Anderson says that he has NBA range right now from beyond the arc. If the Bulls can find somebody is this draft who can consistently make 3-pointers, they'll be happy.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Whiteside is another big body who would be able to provide depth down low. His father, Hassan Arbubakrr, played in the NFL so he and Noah would have something in common as far as having fathers who played professionally in different sports. He is 21 years old and declared after his freshman season, so there is little doubt the Bulls would have to get him onto a weight program and help him add even more muscle.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
A former All-SEC selection, Patterson may be one of the only good things to come out of the Billy Gillispie era -- though he played for John Calipari last season. The Bulls certainly could be intrigued by the fact that he stayed in school for three years. Taj Gibson was a little older than most picks when the Bulls selected him last season, but that worked out just fine for the team in the end. Patterson is another big body who would be expected to hit the glass down low.
Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
I've gotten more e-mails from Bulls fans about Hayward than probably any other player. He helped lead Butler to the Final Four and clearly became a favorite in the midwest for his game. He can score and if he adds some muscle I think he can become a solid NBA player in the future. Still, with last year's first round pick James Johnson in the fold at the 3-position, I don't see the Bulls taking the Bulldog. It's also worth pointing out that most projections have him being selected before the Bulls pick at No. 17.
As we've learned with this team over the last year though … anything is possible. And that's always true throughout the league on draft night.