I know that this is getting boring but the NBA Champions have the 28th and final pick in the 1st round of the 1997 Usenet Mock draft. Their GM is:
Michael Aparicio

Who uses that pick on:
Serge Zwikker


All of the Bulls off-season moves will be based on whether or not Phil Jackson re-signs as head coach. Michael Jordan has made it clear that his future with the Bulls depends on the re-signing of Jackson. MJ does NOT want to play for another coach. Therefore, the Bulls biggest priority is to re-sign Phil, ASAP. Ideally, the Bulls should sign Jackson before June 25, so they know where they stand going into the NBA Draft. With the recent big dollar signings of less experienced and less successful coaches such as Rick Pitino, Larry Brown, and Larry Bird, Jackson should command at least $5 million per year. Phil has made it clear that he wants to take it one season at a time, but the Bulls will try to entice him with a multi-year deal. With such few options, if Jackson does not re-sign, he may opt to take a break from coaching, rather than coach another team. In the end, the Bulls off-season goal is to maintain a championship caliber team while also preparing for the future.

Free Agents

Michael Jordan Michael Jordan (6'6", 216) is without a doubt the reason for the Bulls success. Five NBA titles, five-time finals MVP. Michael has shown night in and night out that he can flat out get it done. Bulls owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, says he'll do whatever it takes to get Jordan back next season, and he's willing to drop another $30 million to do so. Once again, the situation is: No Jackson = No Jordan. Dennis Rodman After a season filled with health and discipline problems, not to mention a sub-par performance in the Finals, few think the Bulls will take another $9 million gamble on the Worm. Despite all of his antics, both on and off the court, Dennis Rodman (6'8", 220) is the greatest rebounder in the NBA. His passing and defense are excellent, and he never hesitates to dive for a loose ball. Rodman spends so much time going for rebounds, his offensive output is negligible. Still, Michael Jordan says he want's to have the whole team back next year, including Rodman, but Bulls management doesn't seem to want to take that risk. Brian Williams Brian Williams (6'11", 260) was a great late-season pickup for the Bulls. His performance in the playoffs was crucial to the Bulls title run. Although the Bulls would love to have him back next season, it is unlikely that he will be back next year. Here's why, according to the Chicago Tribune: The problem for the Bulls is a quirk in the new labor agreement that allows a team over the salary cap--which the Bulls are--to tender only a 20 percent raise to a free agent not with the team for several years. So Williams, if he plays well here, cannot use the so-called Larry Bird exemption to re-sign with the Bulls for an amount above the salary cap. Plus the Bulls have used their extra $1 million exemption for Robert Parish, so all they could offer the 6-foot-11-inch, 260-pound Williams next season is about $50,000 above the $247,500 league minimum. And Williams is sure to get offers well exceeding that. Bill Wennington Bill Wennington (7'0", 277) is basically a poor man's Luc Longley. He has good range and a soft touch, but lacks pretty much everything else. Still, he gives the Bulls some good minutes off the bench when needed. Although Bill didn't play in the playoffs, there's a good possibility the Bulls will lose Robert Parish and Brian Williams next season, so the Bulls may have no choice but to re-sign Wennington for another season. Matt Steigenga Matt Steigenga (6'7", 225) called Jerry Krause late last season asking for Bulls tickets. Krause gave him the best seat in the house. With Bill Wennington and Toni Kukoc injured, Krause signed Matt for the league minimum for the remainder of the season. Steigenga, drafted in the second round of the 1992 draft, played in just 2 games (12 minutes) last season... and he still got a ring! He'll be in the Bulls training camp next season, but it's unlikely he'll make the final cut.

Returning Players


Luc Longley (7'2" 292) had another solid season despite a shoulder injury that kept him out for two months. Luc did a decent job in the playoffs against big name centers like Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. Luc is a decent shot blocker, a great passer, has a good outside shot, and is one of the better free-throw shooting centers in the league. Still, Longley is foul prone and sometimes hesitant with the ball. He is, at best, a mediocre center. Robert Parish (7'1", 244) was seldom used throughout the season. In the few minutes he played, however, he did produce. The Chief said after the Finals that it's time for him to finally call it quits after ending a 10-year championship dry spell. He says there's a 98% chance he won't be back next season. At least now he has more rings than Larry Bird. With Williams and Parish gone next season, the Bulls will be thin at center. They will have no choice but to re-sign Wennington, and will also look to the draft to pick up another backup.

Power Forwards

Jason Caffey (6'8", 256) emerged last season while starting for the injured/suspended Rodman. Caffey averaged 7.3 points per game last season and has proven to be a solid rebounder, averaging 4 per game. Caffey still misses a lot of easy shots (mostly dunks) and has some work to do this summer, but is the most likely candidate to fill Dennis Rodman's shoes should he not return next season. Toni Kukoc (6'11", 242) is listed as a power forward, but he is usually used as a small forward or a guard. Kukoc had trouble playing the 4 during the 1994-95 season, and is not likely to be used at that position much. Kukoc is a great passer and penetrator, but a terrible defender. He is a streaky shooter from outside, but can often be counted on in clutch situations. His performance in the playoffs was hampered by a foot injury he suffered late in the regular season. A few months rest should be enough to return Kukoc to shape as one of the league's top sixth men. Dickey Simpkins (6'10", 264) was even less productive than Robert Parish if you can imagine that! Simpkins played in only 48 games while averaging close to 2 points and 2 rebounds per game. Simpkins, who has been left off the playoff roster for all three seasons of his career, will be back next year. The Bulls also hold the rights to C/F Dragan Tarlac (6'10", 268), who was drafted in the second round of the 1994 draft. Tarlac spent the last two seasons finishing out his contract with Olympiakos Piraeus in Greece, where he won a EuroLeague Championship. Whether he will be in a Bulls uniform next season is still uncertain. Either way, the Bulls will see him in October in the McDonald's World Championship. Without Rodman, the Bulls are weak at the power forward position. Hopefully the Bulls can sign Tarlac, but I haven't heard anything about him since he was drafted two years ago. If Rodman does not re-sign, the Bulls might look to free-agency to fill the void, or they might also look to draft a power forward if a decent center isn't available.

Small Forwards

Scottie Pippen (6'7", 228) is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in the league. Pip is a great defender, passer, rebounder, and has developed his three-point shot. Scottie Pippen, the most underpaid player in the league ($2.25 million last season), has one more year on his contract. Pip is once again the subject of trade rumors. The most recent: Pip to Philadelphia for Jerry Stackhouse and the #2 pick in the draft. Another rumor has him going to Golden State for Joe Smith. The only way Scottie would be traded is if both Phil and MJ did not re-sign. Michael made it clear that Pippen must remain with the team if he is going to come back next season. Jud Buechler (6'6", 228) had a sub-par season, but bounced back in the playoffs just when the Bulls needed him. Jud is a great spot-up shooter and a good defender as well. He always gives the Bulls a good spark off the bench when called upon. He'll be back in the same role next season. With Kukoc and Ron Harper able to play the small forward, the Bulls are pretty solid at the 3 spot.

Shooting Guards

Ron Harper (6'6", 216) has never matched his Cavs/Clippers days since coming to the Bulls. He has, however, provided solid defense and given Michael Jordan a break from guarding smaller, quicker point guards. Harper was another key contributor in the Bulls recent title run. Still, Harper's contract, which paid him $3.8 million last year, makes him nearly impossible to trade. The Bulls might just have to squeeze whatever they can out of him until his contract expires in two years. Randy Brown (6'2", 190) is really to small to be a shooting guard, but not exactly a point guard either. Brown has been used almost exclusively as a defensive stopper against some of the league's quicker point guards. Randy can always be counted on to play tough D, but not much else.

Point Guards

Steve Kerr (6'3", 180) is the closest thing to a point guard the Bulls have. Steve is a clutch shooter, as he showed in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, but is only a mediocre defender. Still, he's a bargain at $700,000. Beacuse of the triangle offense, in which many players handle the ball, the point guard position is obsolete. Scottie Pippen usually plays "point-forward" for the Bulls. Many of the Bulls (Pippen, Jordan, Harper, and Kukoc) are able to play multiple postions including point guard. Should Jackson leave (and presumably Jordan), it is unlikely that the Bulls will stay with the triangle offense. In that case, the Bulls are in DIRE need of a true point guard. If Jordan didn't return, it is likely that Pippen would be traded and Rodman certainly wouldn't be back. In that case, the Bulls may try to trade for a point guard, or maybe pick one up in the draft.

My Selection

Serge Zwikker C (7'2", 275) - North Carolina + Zwikker averaged 11.5 points and 8.1 rebounds during his senior year at North Carolina, and helped the Tarheels make it to the Final Four for the 2nd time in his college career. Serge is a hard-working big man with a soft touch who can also block shots. The biggest complaint about Zwikker is his lack of mobility. Still, he would fit nicely into the Bulls system. Zwikker has improved steadily throughout his college career and should continue to improve in the NBA. With Zwikker in the lineup, the Bulls would again have a three-headed monster with Longley, Zwikker, and hopefully Wennington. Zwikker should emerge as a competent backup center, and should last a while in the NBA. Others Considered ----------------- Maurice Taylor PF (6'9", 255) - Michigan + I can't believe Taylor slipped this far! Utah got themselves a steal. Taylor is easily one of the best players available at this point, and in the unlikely event that he slips this far in the real draft, the Bulls would snatch him up in a second. Taylor's stock may have dropped because the Wolverines failed to make the NCAA Tournament last year, but he did lead them to a NIT Tournament win. Taylor averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds as a junior, while shooting over 50% from the field and 70% from the line. Taylor should have a chance to improve tremendously in the NBA, as he isn't as likely to be double-teamed as much as he was in college. Kiwane Garris PG (6'2", 187) - Illinois I'm kind of partial to Kiwane because he's a fellow Illini, but Garris showed last season that he's ready to play in the NBA. Garris lead the Illini to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, surpassing the expectaions of many sportswriters. Kiwane can penetrate, pass, and defend, as well as hit from the outside. The Bulls should closely consider Garris if they're looking for a true point guard. Garris finished second in the Big Ten last season in points (19.4) and assists (5.6) and earned a spot on the All Big Ten team. He also averaged 12 points and 12 assists at the Nike Desert Classic with just one turnover. Unfortunately, a big man takes priority for the Bulls. God Shammgod PG (6'1", 178) - Providence Shammgod is the highest ranked point guard that is available at this point, but it's unlikely he'll last this long in the real draft. Shammgod can penetrate, but his shooting needs work. His stock would probably go up if he decided to stay in school for another year or two. I don't think he's ready to play in the NBA. Chris Anstey C (7'0", 235) - Australia Anstey is the highest rated center available, but doesn't have the size that Zwikker does. Anstey won a NBL Championship last year with the Southeast Melbourne Magic, as well as the NBL Most-Improved Player Award, and finished second in voting for the NBL Sixth Man Award. In his last season in the NBL he averaged 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The main reason I didn't choose Anstey is his size. But also, can you see the Bulls with TWO Australian centers? Some other players that I didn't consider taking, but I think will do well in the NBA: Johnny Taylor (SF), UT-Chattanooga; Jason Lawson (PF), Villanova; Dedric Willoughby (SG), Iowa State.

Who The Bulls Will Probably Take

Serge Zwikker. There's no way Taylor will drop to 28. The Bulls are in dire need of a big man, regardless of what direction they decide to go in. Zwikker seems to be the best center available at this point.

Other Moves The Bulls Should Make

While nearly every Bulls fan wants Michael and Phil and Scottie to be back next year, Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause must also look to the future. If they begin rebuilding too late, they could lose Pippen to free-agency, lose Jordan to retirement, and end up in the same position as the Boston Celtics in a year or two. I don't see the Bulls keeping all of last year's championship squad, especially Dennis Rodman. At this point Pippen's fate will be an early indicator of the team's future. If he's traded, the Bulls may be without the services of Jordan and Rodman next season, but will add some talent and youth that will keep them playoff contenders. If the whole cast returns, the Bulls will win their sixth championship, and will be in an even tougher position next season. In either case, the Bulls might look at Loy Vaught or Jayson Williams, both of whom the Bulls have shown interest in before, and both of whom are free agents this summer. Vaught averaged 14.9 points and 10 rebounds per game while leading the Clippers to the playoffs. Williams averaged 13.4 points and 13.5 rebounds for the Nets, and can play both center and power forward. The Bulls may also take a look at the Kings' Brian Grant, who averaged 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in his second NBA season. Hopefully the Bulls will be able to sign Dragan Tarlac, which would add depth, youth, and versatility to their front-court.

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