By Cody Westerlund–
CHICAGO (CBS) — With an important pick looming on June 23, the Bulls took a front-row seat Thursday as workouts were held at the NBA Draft Combine at the Quest Multisport Complex.READ MORE: 'When I Finally Got To Be Elvira, That's When My Life Calmed Down': Mistress Of The Dark Peels Back The Curtain
President of basketball operations John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman, assistant GM Brian Hagen and coach Fred Hoiberg spent most of the afternoon watching drills and scrimmages while measurements were also conducted. The Bulls also planned to continue interviews in the coming days.
News of great substance was slow to trickle out, but it’s no secret the Bulls have a guard in their sights in the NBA Draft. To that end, the Bulls have already interviewed Providence guard Kris Dunn, he confirmed.
The 6-foot-4 Dunn’s project to be a top-10 pick by most pundits and perhaps could go as high as the top five, so for the Bulls to nab him anytime in the near future, it would appear they’d have to make a trade. Bulls management has indicated that everything is on the table this summer regarding roster personnel.
Chicago is in line for the No. 14 pick, pending the results of next Tuesday’s draft lottery, in which the Bulls have a 1.8 percent chance at getting a top-three pick.
“It was good,” Dunn said of his interview with the Bulls. “They just want to know who I am as a person.
Asked how he thought he’d fit in with Chicago, Dunn responded “very well.”
“Derrick Rose is there, a great point guard,” Dunn said.
“His situation is similar to mine with injuries. I just would want to know how he kept overcoming it and bouncing back because it happened so many times. And what keeps him motivated and how he became that MVP player.”
Coincidentally, the Timberwolves – now led by former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau – have also been showing interest in Dunn, he said. Minnesota’s currently in line for the No. 5 pick, ping-pong ball fortune pending.
“What I like about him, he’s a defensive coach,” Dunn said of Thibodeau. “My greatest strength is defense, so I want to do everything that I can do to keep that strength going in the NBA and keep that impact.”
Jackson fits into Bulls’ pick range
A player who’s more likely to be available to the Bulls if they end up at No. 14 as expected is Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson, who as of Thursday afternoon hadn’t met with the Bulls but expected to do so in the coming days.
The 6-foot-2 Jackson is a bit undersized but registered a 43.5-inch max vertical leap Thursday, one of the highest in combine history.READ MORE: Teen Stabbed With Scissors After Argument On CTA Red Line Platform At Jackson Station
“When you can play, you can play,” Jackson said. “It’s really about what’s inside. As a shorter guy, they just want to make sure you can play because the league has taller guards and bigger size. They want to make sure you can finish around the rim and create.”
The Suns, Pistons, Kings, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Bucks have shown interest in Jackson, who’s going anywhere between mid-first round and early second round in mock drafts. Jackson’s well aware that his draft projection fits the range the Bulls figure to pick in, and he could potentially provide a much-needed infusion of athleticism for them.
“They’re definitely – probably – taking a guard in the draft,” Jackson said of the Bulls.
Bulls interview Chriss
The Bulls have also interviewed Washington power forward Marquese Chriss, who entered the draft after one year of college and doesn’t turn 19 until July. Chriss checked in at 6-foot-10, 233 pounds at the combine. He’s projected to be a first-round pick and perhaps be a late lottery pick.
Because of his young age, Chriss isn’t as likely to contribute early. He has some ability to stretch defenses, knocking down 35 percent of his 3-pointers at Washington last season.
Members of the Bulls front office and Hoiberg sat in on Chriss’ interview.
“It was really good,” Chriss said. “I just enjoyed talking to them. It was funny, they knew a lot about me that I didn’t know they knew. They knew my best friend’s name and stuff like that.
“It was good though, I enjoyed it. They wanted to get to know me, that’s what most of the teams have been doing. They just want to know my personality, who I am. They asked a lot about my background and where I’m from. That’s pretty much it.”
— Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis – who played high school ball at Marian Catholic in the Chicago area – hasn’t interviewed with the Bulls yet and didn’t have a meeting scheduled as of Thursday afternoon, though that could easily change. The 5-foot-10, 149-pound Ulis will be one of the smallest players in the NBA, but he’s projected to be a mid-first round selection by many, so he figures to fit the Bulls’ draft range. Ulis has interviewed with the Spurs, 76ers, Grizzlies, Pistons, among others
— Maryland guard Melo Trimble said he doesn’t have an interview scheduled with the Bulls. In his latest communication with them, the Bulls wanted to see how he performed in five-on-five play against other prospects, he said. Trimble hasn’t hired an agent, so he still has time to pull out of the draft and return to school. His high-end projections so far are in the late first round, while others view him as a second-rounder.
— Iowa State forward Georges Niang called Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg a “father figure” and said it’d be “awesome” to play in Chicago. Niang is a fringe draft prospect, not even showing up on the majority of mock drafts. Niang played three seasons under Hoiberg at Iowa State. His could be a name to watch for the Bulls if they navigate the undrafted rookie crop.
— Thibodeau was at the combine and spent several minutes holding a cordial conversation with Hoiberg. Bulls wing Jimmy Butler also made an appearance — in a sleeveless hoodie, no less. He declined an interview request.MORE NEWS: Record 53,000 Rat Complaints Help Chicago Retain Crown As Rattiest City In America For 7th Year In A Row
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.