Bulls hopeful for strong All-Star presence this season

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Bulls hopeful for strong All-Star presence this season

The fan votes for All-Star starters were announced last week, and on Thursday the coaches selections for the reserves will be made public as well.

Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah warrant consideration for their play that has helped keep the Bulls steady in the absence of Derrick Rose, and coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful that all three will be headed to Houston next month.

I hope all three make it, Thibodeau said. I think we have three guys who are very deserving.

Thibodeau is not one to bombard his fellow coaches with phone calls, e-mails and gifts in hopes that theyll select any of his players. Instead, he feels that the play of any player, along with team success, dictates the nod.

I dont get wrapped up in that stuff because its political and a waste of time, Thibodeau said. If someone sent me something, I wouldnt even look at it. When they ask me to vote, I try to look at the team success, how the players fit in and theyre all tough choices. You can make the case for a lot of guys. There are a lot of guys that are deserving and its very close. So you try to put a little more thought on team success. Also, how consistently a player has done it. Often times, it takes a couple years to get there. I thought Luol shouldve made it two years ago and he finally made it last year.

Deng could make his second consecutive All-Star appearance if he gets the green light. Carlos Boozer has appeared in two All-Star games as a reserve during his tenure with the Utah Jazz. If Joakim Noah gets voted in, this would mark his first appearance in an All-Star game.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

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AP

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Vincent Goodwill recap the Bulls' busy NBA Draft and the decision to trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman joins the panel for an exclusive interview. He breaks down why the organization decided to move the three-time All-Star. 

Click here to Bulls Talk Podcast.

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.

The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.

"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."

Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.

The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.

The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Brook Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.

"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."