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Columnist
No moves, and no progress for Bulls
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 6/26/2009 12:00 AM

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Draft day can be magical in the NBA.

It can also be a nightmare.

Perhaps even worse, it can be dull.

See, an NBA front office knows it's a day when teams are most aggressive, most willing to make moves, and most likely to panic if they can't get what they need in New York.

For the smartest and most patient, it can be the day that turns fortunes - and makes them.

For the Bulls, you can debate whether there was much opportunity for them Thursday through the draft or through trade, but while some teams had very exciting news to share with the fan base, the Bulls had almost nothing.

What's certain is that after passing not once, but twice on Pitt's DeJuan Blair in the first round, they're still weak down low.

They also failed to land a replacement for their top scorer and shooting guard in Ben Gordon, who can depart once free agency begins next week, and they still haven't moved the bad contract belonging to Kirk Hinrich.

So what you have is a lot of question marks within the roster of a team that showed a lot of heart in taking an old and injured Boston team to the limit in the first round.

As entertaining as that was, it didn't prove anything that you didn't already know.

As was the case when the 2008-09 season began, when it ended, and after draft day, Derrick Rose still has no one reliable to play catch with down low.

There was some hope that Chris Bosh might be on the move this summer, though when it doesn't happen on draft day, you have to think it won't happen until the trade deadline next winter.

So what you have is Joakim Noah, who grew up a bit during the Boston series, admitting afterward that he needed to add weight and get in better shape if he wanted to compete with legitimate NBA big men.

Giving away 50 pounds to Boston's Kendrick Perkins and 70 to Glen Davis, Noah got thrown around like a wet towel, and spent much of his time with his back on the floor.

Noah is having a terrific off-season thus far, shunning the beach for the weight room, and is making progress toward bulking up, for what it's worth now that Shaquille O'Neal is back in the conference.

As for Tyrus Thomas, Vinny Del Negro found out what Scott Skiles already knew, that Thomas serves almost no purpose.

There was some hope in the Bulls organization that Thomas would be employed in another city by the time the clock struck midnight Thursday.

No such luck. At least, not yet.

The Bulls did have a chance with the 16th pick to grab Pitt banger Blair, who at 6-6, 277, would have immediately become the Bulls' toughest player, best rebounder, biggest presence down low, hardest worker, and nastiest post player capable of filling the enforcer role, all things they desperately need.

Instead, they went for Wake tweener James Johnson, who's more small forward than power forward, but he won't be able to guard NBA smalls.

The good news, apparently, is that he's grown 2 inches and 20 pounds in the last two months to 6-9, 245, but his college coach said recently he's best at small forward and playing at about 235 pounds.

He fits right in with the Bulls because he can't play much defense, but he can finish when he gets to the bucket, and against smaller forwards on the offensive end he'll enjoy a mismatch, so Rose will get him the ball.

At No. 26, the Bulls passed on Blair again and took Taj Gibson, who at 6-10, 214, was compared unfavorably to Brad Sellers, while Blair fell to San Antonio at 37th.

All in all, not a very exciting night for the Bulls, but then again, what can you expect from two non-lottery picks in a terrible draft?

Obviously, not a lot.

brozner@dailyherald.com