Bulls general manager Gar Forman knows trading Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum's contract and three draft picks wasn't easy, but he believes the trade will free up some financial restrictions and give the franchise an even brighter outlook going forward.
Forman, who was stuck on the West Coast and could not return to Chicago when Deng was traded to Cleveland earlier this week, joined Bulls Pregame Live on Friday night and addressed the trade, where the Bulls stand in free agency next season and what financial flexibility would do for the team in the coming years. Though he admitted it became clear the team wasn't going to be able to re-sign Deng, trading the Bulls' leading scorer wasn't necessarily a white flag on the current season.
"We still feel like there is a bright, bright future ahead for this team. I know people have talked about a rebuild. We don't see this as a rebuild; we see it more as retooling," Forman told Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue. "And the reason I say that, is we still really like a lot of the core pieces. You've got Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, etc."
Forman explained that trading Deng and subsequently waiving Bynum's contract -- two moves which saved the team nearly $20 million and took them under the luxury tax -- will give the team more flexibility to pursue other avenues of obtaining talent to surround the core he already sees as one of the league's best.
That very well could mean free agency, when the Bulls are expected to be active, or through the draft, the part of the Deng trade which seemed to excite Forman most.
In addition to obtaining draft picks to potentially find talent, Forman also explained that those draft picks also help to cheaply fill out the roster with players they choose. The Bulls could have as many as three first round draft picks this June, and conveyed 2015 and 2016 second-round picks from Cleveland (through Portland) in the deal. That, Forman said, is the key to building a contender.
"We've got to have a full roster where we've got not only strong starters, but a strong bench in order to try to get back to a championship-caliber level," he said. "I still think we like the core of the team, we've now got some flexibility to go with that, we've got draft picks to go with that and the next three to five years, I think we're as well positioned probably as any team in the league."
Yet while the future looks bright, Forman admitted that the Bulls may not be done dealing this season.
"It's something...we're always evaluating," Forman said of potential trades. "This is the time of the year where there's lots of discussions. I still think in a lot of ways it's a feeling out process with different teams, but I think we'll have some things presented to ourselves. Whether we go in a certain direction, I don't know, but whatever direction we go in obviously we're looking at core pieces that can help this team moving forward."
Watch the video above to see all of Forman's comments from Bulls Pregame Live.