Bulls GM Forman coy about team's plans on media day


Bulls GM Forman coy about team's plans on media day

In his first official appearance in front of the media, Bulls general manager Gar Forman didn't shed much light on the organization's future transactions. When questioned about issues ranging from the potential acquisition of shooting guard Rip Hamilton and the team's involvement in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes to veteran big man Kurt Thomas signing with Portland and the status of Keith Bogans, last season's starting shooting guard, Forman played coy.

"Really, all I know is what Ive read," Forman said regarding Hamilton, reportedly bought out by the Pistons, though the process might not be completed yet. "I dont want to talk about other teams' players."

About Howard, Forman offered one of his standard lines, saying, "Its our job to be in touch with all 29 teams around the league and we have been in the last week.

"I wouldnt mention individual names or share our business or who were talking to as far as players are concerned," he continued. "Were having conversations throughout the league."

As far as Bogans, Forman reiterated the stance he took in a statement released by the team on Friday, when the veteran shooting guard was pulled off the Berto Center practice floor in the first practice of training camp. However, despite his praise of Bogans, it now seems unlikely that he'll return to Chicago or that the Bulls will have a chance to exercise their 1.73 million team option by the Dec. 19 deadline.

Forman took his shtick even further when Thomas--who reportedly signed a two-year contract with the Trail Blazers--was mentioned, professing that he wasn't aware of the deal for the league's elder statesman, a valuable member of the Bulls' 62-win regular-season team a year ago, before offering platitudes.

"Obviously we wanted Kurt back and we offered Kurt a contract. He was a big part of what we did a year ago," he said. "But Kurt had to evaluate the situation from his perspective and obviously he must have felt that Portland presented a better opportunity off him.

"Well have to have some depth behind them, even if its just from a practice standpoint. Its hard to go through a season with just four bigs. Thats still something were taking a look at, whether we add another four or a five," Forman added, when asked whether the Bulls would another insurance-policy post player to their frontline. "Again, if we dont find the right guy well be patient with it try to keep some flexibility with that position. If we dont address it right away, we may address it down the road."

Forman did offer some clarity as to the Bulls' thought process during the NBA's chaotic, truncated free-agency period, indicating that the franchise would exercise patience and are confident in the current roster.

"It was our goal to bring the nucleus of this team back and we have. We love the makeup and character of this basketball team. What we really like is the chemistry that weve got and the way these guys work together," said Forman. "We're still exploring ways we can improve this basketball team moving forward, and and we still have some roster spots and a little bit of flexibility, and were exploring options, as far as making additions to this team, and hopefully something will happen in regards to that in the next few days.

"The way weve approached this free agency, weve been in contact with a number of players and weve really tried to explore a number of different options we feel we would have a chance to improve this basketball team. If we find the right player or players that we feel give us a chance to get better, well certainly make a move. That said, our feeling has always been were not going to make a move just to make a move. If we dont feel its a plus for this team, well bring this team back as is and feel really good about our group of guys and give them a chance to continue to grow," he continued. "I dont want to talk about specific players, but obviously right now weve got 11 guys under contract and we still have some spots to fill and some flexibility as to how we approach it."

One thing the general manager didn't hem and haw about, however, was their efforts in the process to get the league MVP signed to a long-term extension to remain in his hometown.

"Derrick is the centerpiece of what were trying to put together here. Obviously, we want Derrick to be a Chicago Bull for a long, long time," said Forman. "To us, its obviously very important that we put the right pieces around Derrick and hes able to have success, that we have success, and that he remains a Chicago Bull.

"Were talking to his representatives now and hopefully well be able to get something done in a pretty short amount of time."

Adjusting to bench role, Nikola Mirotic made big defensive play to seal Bulls win

Adjusting to bench role, Nikola Mirotic made big defensive play to seal Bulls win

Anytime Nikola Mirotic is on an island defensively in a crucial moment of a game, there’s a general sense of nervousness and doubt that’s palpable inside the United Center.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when Mirotic defended Boston Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown well enough to force a travel in the final minute of the Bulls’ 105-99 win Thursday night.

With the Celtics down two, Brown started his drive from the top of the key and pivoted back to his right. When he rose up for a jumper or pass, Mirotic was right in his face and Brown, a talented rookie playing in his second NBA game, didn’t know where to go.

He came back down with the ball still in his hands for a traveling violation, and the stage was set for Dwyane Wade’s closing heroics.

Wade, the closer was set up by Mirotic, the stopper—well, let’s not go that far just yet.

“I tried just to play good defense, to make him drive the ball because we want him to shoot a contested shot,” Mirotic said. “It was big-time defense. We needed that one. After that, Dwyane Wade has huge stop and made that 3. It’s a team job, team defense. I was just trying to be a part of that. I’m very happy about the game.”

In all fairness, Brown is a rookie and the Bulls would rather not see Mirotic in a one-on-one situation late in games defensively. But it appears as if Fred Hoiberg will give him the opportunities to close games so Mirotic will find himself in instances where he’ll have to make plays on both ends.

Hoiberg called it the defensive play of the game, and agreed with the assessment of Mirotic being an underrated defensive rebounder despite his struggles on that end of the floor.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It just goes to show you even when your shot isn’t falling, you can still have a positive impact,” Hoiberg said. “I loved his attack. He was getting in the paint and got some offensive rebound tip-ins as well so just overall solid game.”

Although Hoiberg had to make the decision to insert Taj Gibson as a starter at power forward over Mirotic, it’s not hard to see scenarios like Thursday where both are together to close games—Mirotic will be needed to spread the floor for Wade and Jimmy Butler to create shots in one-on-one situations.

Mirotic missed five of his six 3-point shots but was flawless inside the line, scoring 15 with nine rebounds.

“To be honest, I didn’t feel very comfortable with my 3-point shot,” said Mirotic, although Hoiberg said Mirotic’s attempts were good looks. “I tried to find a way to score, make an impact on the game---rebound the ball, play unselfish. My goal was to play good defense because I know that’s the next step.”

Getting over the idea of losing a starting job many believed would’ve been his given the composition of the roster seems to be behind Mirotic, who was a starter last season before acute appendicitis forced him out of action before the All-Star break.

“It doesn’t feel right to be honest. But no disappointment. It is what it is,” Mirotic said. “I want to not think and be focused and play my game. Now that I come from the bench, it’s like, ‘All right, figure out how you’re going to do that, how you’re going to help your team and play well.’”

Gibson and Mirotic were the only Bulls to shoot over 50 percent, as Gibson’s strong preseason play carried over to the opener. Make no mistake, if the Bulls are to exceed modest expectations, Mirotic will have to step up, as his production is no longer a luxury.

“It’s going to be a long season. But I told Fred it’s no problem,” Mirotic said. “I respect your decision. Taj is an amazing player. He’s playing so good. He’s in great shape. He deserves to be the starter. He has played a lot of years here. So I respect that. I’m cool with that. What I want to do is play my game, improve this year, make my team win more games. That’s all I can do.”

Watch: Dwyane Wade's boyish exuberance comes out after his first win with hometown Bulls

Watch: Dwyane Wade's boyish exuberance comes out after his first win with hometown Bulls

NBA superstar Dwyane Wade showed just how happy he was to capture his first regular season win for this hometown Bulls as he walked to the locker room on Thursday night.

Wade was unable to contain his excitement as he left the court, blurting out the following.

"Thats the way to do it. That's a homecoming right there. I like that one."

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Wade finished his Bulls debut with 22 points, including hitting four three-pointers, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists.

All capped off by a postgame hug with mom too.

Now that's one heck of a homecoming right there.