Bulls Insider

How Damian Lillard's injury could affect Bulls


Damian Lillard is not only one of the game's great players, but he has been an exemplary ambassador for the small-market Portland Trail Blazers.

So their fan base surely is reeling from Wednesday's news, first reported by ESPN's Brian Windhorst, that the All-Star guard will undergo surgery to address a lingering abdominal injury. Lillard will be sidelined indefinitely for a Portland team that is 16-24 and currently in 10th place in the Western Conference.

But the Chicago Bulls could be affected by the development as well.

The Bulls own a 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick from the Trail Blazers, acquired in the three-team sign-and-trade of Lauri Markkanen to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls acquired Derrick Jones Jr. and his expiring, $9.7 million salary and the pick.

The first-round pick carries the same protection the following year — and through 2028 — if it doesn't convey this season. The Bulls possess their own first-round pick in 2022, but management traded away the 2023 and 2025 picks in its aggressive move to remake the roster and land Nikola Vučević and DeMar DeRozan. So this pick carries some value.

It also potentially loses a bit of trade value as the Feb. 10 deadline approaches. If the Bulls were to choose to include it in a package, it might lose some luster for those rebuilding teams looking to reap immediate dividends.

Stay tuned on all.

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