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Gar Forman evaluates the offseason
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jul 30
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You could almost hear the rippling of applause, like it was a presidential State of the Union address. Except it was Bulls general manager Gar Forman. And if you could get past the part with Forman wearing shorts, it was somewhat presidential.
The state of the Bulls, as Forman told it Wednesday after USA Basketball practice at UNLV, is sound physically, structurally and internally.
“We were really pleased (about the offseason),” Forman told Chicago reporters. “We said going into the offseason, we had a level of flexibility (where) we thought 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 the basketball 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 the team together and putting the pieces together, the fit with the core guys we have coming back and fit with each other, the guys coming in.
“We thought we were aggressive,” Forman added. “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 we thought is 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 (Mirotic) over here. We’ve been patient with knowing he was under contract and still young and growing. 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.
“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,” Forman said in leaving the personnel door open barely a crack. “With that said, we really like the group we have and we look forward to getting going in October with that group.”
So these are your 2014-15 Bulls. Let’s see what they have.
Forman was in Las Vegas along with fellow Bulls executive John Paxson to watch Derrick Rose’s return to high level competition in the USA Basketball training camp to select the 12-player team for the basketball World Cup in Spain starting in late August. Rose is expected to make the team. And while Forman said the Bulls encouraged Rose to participate and are hoping he plays in Spain, they also have been pleased with his performance with their own look toward the Bulls season.
“I think he has been terrific,” Forman said of Rose. “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. Defensively, it has been incredible to watch him get after guys. Even this morning (in the scrimmages), 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’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,” said Forman. “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 playing, reacting and playing. He has been playing five-on-five now 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 obviously a plus for our team.
“I don’t see him forcing anything,” Forman said in regard to any changes in Rose’s play. “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. And he’s getting others involved. 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. 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.”
There have been sporadic reports the Bulls still could be interested in other players, including Minnesota’s Kevin Love. But Forman pretty much eliminated all that. He, of course, didn’t close any doors to opportunities. But he made clear the major Bulls decisions have been made for this summer and perhaps closer to the start of the season they’ll fill out the roster with a backup player or two.
“We were really putting together an entirely new team,” Forman said about the 2010 free agency, which landed Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer. “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, Kirk. It’s different in that we were able to add to that group (and) 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 (in 2010). 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 (this team) probably (is) a little bit more experienced than we had at that time.”
And that team did go on to win 62 games.
So now it’s to the coach, the Congress of the Bulls union, to make things happen.
“It looks good,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a USA Basketball assistant. “But we have to see how it unfolds. The team that won 62 games and 50 in the lockout season; they did it on the floor. So we can talk about it. But we have to put the work into it and we have to see what it looks like on the floor. I like the fact we have quality depth. I love the players we have. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”