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Bulls’ selection of Matas Buzelis continues youth movement – NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide insurance agent Jeff Vukovich

The Bulls did not draft Cooper Flagg on Wednesday.

But they increased their ability to put themselves in a position to potentially do this. And by selecting Matas Buzelis with the 11th pick in the first round of the NBA’s two-day NBA Draft, they continue the potential rebuild that management could ease into as a retool that began last week with the trade of Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey.

Make no mistake: Zach LaVine is not only available for trade, the Bulls are open for business. And with rumors growing that DeMar DeRozan will be elsewhere next season, either via sign-or-trade or simply unrestricted free agency, the buzzword is no longer competitiveness.

It’s Cooper.

The Bulls need to finish in the bottom 10 next season to keep the protected first-round pick they owe the San Antonio Spurs in the sign-and-trade acquisition of DeRozan starting in August 2021. That’s the month Artūras Karnišovas and his staff remade the Bulls with a vision that led the Eastern Conference until Lonzo Ball’s left knee required the first of several surgeries.

The management, which has already completed a rebuild around Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and had cashed in on others it inherited when it was adopted, had tried to stay competitive after one playoff season. Instead, the Bulls failed to exit the Play In tournament in two consecutive seasons.

And so now, by adding a dynamic guard with upside in Giddey, drafting a 19-year-old in Matas Buzelis and all signs pointing to the Bulls re-signing Patrick Williams in restricted free agency, a youth movement could be underway come.

The Bulls liked Ron Holland II, according to sources, who went to the Detroit Pistons with the fifth overall pick. But Buzelis was widely expected to be gone by the 11e to elect.

After having conversations about moving up in the draft, with Donovan Clingan a potential target or possibly moving back to another local kid, Terrence Shannon Jr., the Bulls fully expected someone high on their draft board to be available are at No. 11.

That someone is Buzelis, a 6-foot-4 forward who was born and raised in Chicago, played for Hinsdale Central for a year and played for G League Ignite last season.

Buzelis spoke to NBC Sports Chicago in March about the hypothesis of playing for the Bulls.

“I would feel good about it,” he said at the time. “Hometown hero! It would be fun to play for Chicago. I just watched it when I was younger and watched Derrick Rose play. It would be a great experience. … We used to go to games when the Grizzlies were playing them because one of my dad’s clients, who he works with, plays for the Grizzlies.

Providence guard Devin Carter, long associated with the Bulls, was available. Considering he’s expected to be more plug-and-play than Buzelis, this is another sign the Bulls are playing the long game here.

“I’m ready to work,” Buzelis said on the ESPN broadcast.

There will be plenty of opportunities in what is suddenly a youth movement, with Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips also on the roster.

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