Bulls select Teague with 29th pick in draft

June 29, 2012

Andrew Seligman, Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls figure they'll take a hit without Derrick Rose. They hope they softened the blow on Thursday.

The Bulls selected Marquis Teague with the 29th pick in the draft, giving them a point guard who could help fill the void while Rose recovers from major knee surgery.

They're not finished looking for help at that spot.

General manager Gar Forman said they're still looking for another point guard and could use some help at shooting guard, with free agency starting on Sunday.

"It's going to take a number of guys to make up for the load that we miss while Derrick's out," Forman said. "The point guard is one of the positions we still need to address as we go into free agency."

Teague, whose older brother Jeff plays for Atlanta, was the fourth Wildcats player drafted, after Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went to New Orleans and Charlotte at No. 1 and No. 2 and Houston took Terrence Jones at No. 18.

Teague averaged 10.0 points and ranked second in the SEC at 4.8 assists per game while helping Kentucky win a national championship in his lone season. He struggled at times on defense and with turnovers but improved in both areas as the year went on.

The Bulls have had good luck with explosive guards who played for John Calipari. Rose, who isn't expected back until early next year, did at Memphis.

"It was something we were looking at," Forman said. "(He's) another guy that's capable of pushing in transition, breaking down defenses and making plays. He's an excellent athlete."

Could he start at some point next season?

"He's going to make a big adjustment going from college to the pros," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The first part is learning how to be a pro. And then it's going to be based on performance, how he does. He has to learn our system, learn our league, and then we'll see where we are."

So was that a no?

"It's not a no or a yes," Thibodeau said.

The Bulls have done well with late first-round picks in recent years, with Taj Gibson (No. 26 in 2009) becoming a key part of the rotation and Jimmy Butler showing promise last season after being taken with the 30th pick.

Teague joins a team that appears to be in a holding pattern at the moment, waiting for Rose to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It's an awkward spot, particularly considering the Bulls captured the No. 1 overall playoff seed the past two years.

They were widely viewed as the top threat in the Eastern Conference to LeBron James and the Miami Heat until Rose crumbled to the court, clutching his knee late in the Bulls' playoff-opening win over Philadelphia. They suffered another big hit when they lost Joakim Noah to a sprained left ankle in Game 3.

Without its franchise player and top rebounder, Chicago couldn't get past the 76ers after losing to Miami in the conference finals the previous year.

Rose could return some time around mid-January or February if he doesn't miss the entire season, but how soon he regains his explosiveness is another issue. That likely won't happen until 2013-14, assuming he returns to form.

Luol Deng also is a bit of a question mark, at least for early next season. He played a significant portion of the season with a torn ligament in his left wrist and plans to represent Great Britain in the Olympics. If he has surgery afterward, that could put him on the shelf for the start of the season.

He's also been mentioned in trade rumors.

"We don't respond to rumors," Forman said. "I've said this before pretty consistently — we like the core group of guys that we have, and we like the direction which we're headed. Obviously, it was disappointing how the season ended this year with the injuries, and I've said I think in the short term we've taken a little bit of a hit. We've hit a bump in the road, but as far as what we're looking at long term, we still feel we're headed in the right direction, and the decision tonight and the decisions we make into July, we're still going to keep the big picture in mind.

"Were we actively shopping players?" he continued. "Absolutely not. Were there conversations? All 30 teams have conversations about everybody on their roster, but we like the core of this team. It's our job to continue to try to put pieces around Derrick and some of the other core guys and try to continue to trend up."

Complicating matters is that the Bulls have no salary-cap space, and if they retain restricted free agent Omer Asik, as they have indicated they intend to do, they could be in luxury-tax territory. That means the bench will likely take a hit, with the team holding contract options on Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson.

Drafting Teague was just a step for the Bulls, who did not have a second-round pick.

"All the reports, all the background that we did on him — everybody said he's very, very competitive, he's a winner, and that's something you guys know over the years we've stressed," Forman said.