DEERFIELD, Ill. – The Chicago Bulls gave their struggling offense a boost — and bigger moves could be on the way.
The Bulls acquired the draft rights to high-scoring Creighton forward Doug McDermott from Denver on Thursday night, the first addition in what could be a busy offseason.
Next up: A trade for Kevin Love? How about Carmelo Anthony or maybe even LeBron James in free agency?
Landing one of them sure would jolt a low-scoring team that clawed its way to 48 wins despite losing franchise player Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury.
"We've got some flexibility with cap room, but people have compared it to 2010," general manager Gar Forman said. "We don't have near that type of cap room. In looking at all our options, obviously to try to accomplish some things, we're gonna have to try to be creative."
The draft was a start.
The Nuggets took McDermott at No. 11 and dealt him to Chicago for the 16th and 19th picks along with a second-rounder in 2015. The Bulls also acquired forward Anthony Randolph and his expiring contract. He's owed $1.825 million and could be a candidate to be traded at some point considering his salary comes off the books after next season, although he can't be part of a multiplayer deal for 60 days.
Chicago drafted New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow in the second round with the 49th pick.
McDermott led the nation in scoring last season with a 26.7 average and shot 52.6 percent from the field, including 44.9 percent from 3-point range. He finished his college career as basketball's fifth-leading scorer playing under his father Greg and was selected The Associated Press player of the year.
"I think can provide some outside shooting ... and be able to come off screens and play off their superstars — D-Rose, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler and the whole crew," McDermott said. "I feel like I can fit in right away."
He joins a team that shot a league-low 43.2 percent and relied heavily on its stingy defense. When Rose, the former MVP, tore the meniscus in his right knee in his 10th game, it cut short his comeback after he sat out last season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee. It also forced the Bulls to shift gears.
Instead of challenging Miami for supremacy in the Eastern Conference, they traded away Luol Deng. Despite all that, they still reached the playoffs but got knocked out by Washington in the first round.
Now, they're in position to make some moves. Miami suddenly looks vulnerable after getting pounded by San Antonio in the finals, and with LeBron James opting out of his contract, the Eastern Conference could be up for grabs whether he stays with the Heat or not.
"We've mapped out a number of different ways we can go," Forman said. "Some of it we control, some of it we don't, just like any of these situations. But we'll certainly try to be as aggressive as we can be to improve the team."
With Carlos Boozer and his $16.8 million salary likely to be amnestied if not traded with one year left on his deal, the Bulls have the cap flexibility and the trade chips to make some moves.
They could package Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Taj Gibson or the rights to Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic in a trade. Mike Dunleavy Jr. might also be expendable, with one more year left on his contract and McDermott now in the mix.
If they don't land a star in a trade or free agency, the Bulls could try to bring over Mirotic and build depth.
There are also big questions centering on Rose and his knees — and whether another top player would want to align with him given the injuries.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose is "doing great" and that what will also make the Bulls an attractive destination is the players already surrounding him. He also said Rose will practice with the summer league team and will train with the U.S. national team this summer in preparation for the World Cup of Basketball in Spain.
"We have a good team," Thibodeau said. "We have a great city, a great organization and we have a team that has depth."