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Forman's deals clear cap space for this summer

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Feb 18

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By Adam Fluck

Bulls General Manager Gar Forman outlined two goals on Thursday that the team had identified prior to the NBA’s trade deadline—creating salary cap flexibility heading into this summer to attract a maximum contract free agent and keeping the team’s nucleus together with the goal of the making the postseason still intact.

Following deals with Milwaukee and Charlotte, it is mission accomplished for Forman and the Bulls, who didn’t lose a starter and will keep the core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich in Chicago for the remainder of the season.

While 29 regular season games remain for the Bulls, clearly the motive of Thursday’s deals was with the potential free agent crop in mind, which could include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson, among others. Forman spoke about why he believes the Bulls could be an enticing destination for one of the top-tier players.

“We've got a really good nucleus of players that are attractive as far as a place to go in the free agent market,” he said. “Obviously, there are a lot of teams that have cap room, but there are a lot of players that are available that can help make you better.

“It starts with Derrick Rose,” Forman added. “We have a young All-Star who we feel is going to be one of the top players moving forward in the NBA. His game translates into the type of game that guys want to play with him. He’s got a lot of special abilities, but he’s very unselfish. Joakim Noah is having an All-Star type season. He’s a young player who is only in his third year in the league. Luol Deng is putting up career-best type numbers this season and is making some real strides at only 24 years old. We talked to all [29] teams throughout this process and Taj Gibson’s name came up a lot, so obviously the league has noticed how good of a player he is. There was a lot of speculation about Kirk Hinrich, but we didn’t want to lose him. He’s a real glue guy for us and he’s a leader.”

In the team’s first trade, John Salmons was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks for Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick.

As part of that deal, Chicago also traded its regular second round draft choices in 2011 and 2012. A final element of the trade gives Milwaukee the option in NBA Draft 2010 of switching first round picks with Chicago, given that the pick is not a top 10 selection.

Later in the day, the Bulls traded Tyrus Thomas to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Ronald “Flip” Murray and Acie Law.

“We talked to a lot of people around the league about Flip and the same things kept coming back,” said Forman. “He’s very competitive, a hard worker and likes to play. I think he’ll fit in with our guys both on and off the floor. He’s an explosive scorer. Several people said, ‘He will take and make big shots.’”

Chicago also received a future first round draft pick from Charlotte.

“We feel [the pick] is going to be important for us as we continue to build,” said Forman. “It’s a chip that we’ll be able to use, whether we acquire a player or via trade down the road.”

Forman acknowledged that a tough aspect of the day was bidding farewell to two players who contributed to the team’s success—Salmons after his arrival via trade last February, most notably in the Bulls’ playoff series versus Boston, and Thomas for the potential he displayed throughout his career.

“John Salmons is a pro's pro. He came in a year ago and gave us a big lift,” he said. “And Tyrus was great when I talked to him. He's looking forward to a new challenge.”

Forman said the Bulls staff would meet Friday to lay out plans for scouting the remainder of the season and target players that they believe will best fit the team.

Nothing can be done until the NBA’s free agent moratorium has been lifted on July 1, but there will be plenty of speculation between now and then as to whom the Bulls might make its top priority for a potential maximum contract deal.

“Obviously, there’s a Plan A, B, C and D,” said Forman. “You can’t just have one plan. You’ve got to remain fluid and just be prepared for every possible scenario that could be thrown at you.”

Audio—Bulls General Manager Gar Forman on the team’s trades with Milwaukee and Charlotte, and having enough cap space to offer a maximum deal to a free agent this summer (02.18.10):

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