LAS VEGAS—Bulls general manager Gar Forman, on hand for the first three days of USA Basketball’s training camp at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center, shared his thoughts on Derrick Rose and other Bulls-related topics Wednesday in somewhat of a state-of-the-team address.
“I think he has been terrific. He looks strong. He looks confident. He looks explosive. He has been in a real good rhythm. He is playmaking for himself and others. It’s been really, really encouraging,” Forman said about Rose, who continued his strong play Wednesday, coming out of nowhere to block a jumper by Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan jumper, then pinning a layup attempt by Warriors point guard Stephen Curry to the backboard on back-to-back possessions, as well as getting into the paint on offense and finding teammates as a playmaker. “I don’t see him forcing anything. I see him letting the game come to him and then when he has opportunities to make plays, he makes them. He’s playing with what appears to me great confidence. When he has an opportunity to make plays, he’s making them and he’s getting others involved, and defensively, he has been terrific.
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“When I say he’s playing with confidence, he is playing with a real nice pace to his game. Obviously, he is so athletic that he’s going to make explosive plays. But I don’t see him rushing in anything that he’s doing,” the former NBA co-Executive of the Year continued. “It’s great that he gets to play against this level of competition and it’s just good to see him playing with so much confidence, and just reacting and playing.”
With Rose’s injury history, Forman would have a right to be apprehensive about the point guard’s participation, but he believes that the Chicago native will benefit from his national-team experience and has no major concerns.
“No, not at all. I think it’s a real positive that he gets an opportunity to do this and do it against the level of competition that he’s doing it against,” Forman explained. “Just to see how he is moving, how he’s doing. But he looks terrific. And he’s so strong. Defensively, it has been incredible to get after guys. Even this morning, he had four or five big-time athletic plays—blocked shots, steals in the open court. He’s been really, really good.
“I think it will help. He has been playing five-on-five for a couple of months. But to do it in this setting that is very structured and the level of competition that he’s doing it against is a real plus. I think it will be a plus for him going into camp in October and a plus for our team,” he added. “I haven’t seen him back down to contact in any way. He has made plays in the key and at the rim on both ends of the floor. I haven’t seen any difference.”
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Forman also discussed the Bulls’ summer, which featured some impactful moves, between signing the likes of Pau Gasol, among others, in free agency, acquiring Select Team player Doug McDermott in last month’s NBA Draft and the arrival of Nikola Mirotic from Spain.
“We were really pleased. We said going into the offseason we had a level of flexibility with which we could upgrade our team in several ways. We talked about in the spring of wanting to have a deeper team. I think we accomplished that. I think we have quality depth across the board, and then we wanted to improve our skill level and ability to shoot to space the floor, and I think we were able to do that. So we were very encouraged with how the free agency period went, as far as putting pieces together that we think fit with the core guys we have coming back and fit with each other,” Forman said. “We thought we were aggressive and we think we made some additions that will really help this team, from draft night when we moved up to get Doug McDermott, a guy that we had targeted for quite awhile and is a real fit with our roster. We gave up quite a bit in two first-round picks and some second-round picks to get him and then to add quality depth with Pau Gasol, who has been a big part of championship teams and is a guy whose versatility and skill level fits our team. To get Nikola over here who over the last three years we’ve been patient with knowing he was under contract and still young and growing. Add him to the mix. To get Kirk Hinrich back was an important piece to what we’re doing, to add Aaron Brooks. So we felt good about how it turned out.
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“It’s become a 12-month cycle. The NBA used to be about this time of year things would kind of die. The sense is it’s not like that anymore. There’s always some talk. That’s our job. We’re always going to try to talk to people around the league and get a feel for what’s going on in the market and if there are opportunities, we’ll look at them. With that said, we really like the group we have and we look forward to getting going in October with that group,” he went on to explain, when asked whether the Bulls were done with any major roster maneuvers, before delving into the similarities, or lack thereof, between this offseason and 2010, which saw the acquisition of players such as Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik. “That summer was different because we only had three or four guys under contract. We were really putting together an entirely new team. This year, we’ve got the core of guys that have had some level of success returning. Obviously, Derrick and Joakim and Taj and Jimmy. It’s different in that we were able to add to that group but we still have some very important core guys who are returning. I think we’ve got a little more experience than we had at that time. Derrick is into his mid-20s. Taj is in his late-20s. Joakim, these guys have been through the wars a little bit more. To add a guy like Gasol who obviously has championship experience so probably a little bit more experienced roster than we had at that time.”
Forman also made a wry observation about Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, also in attendance as a USA Basketball assistant, quipping: “I think it’s great, just the opportunity to work with these guys. We have to get him some throat lozenges, though. It seems like he’s losing his voice.”