Gar Forman insisted the Bulls would look for the best player available Thursday night, and he stayed true to his word when he drafted Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague with the 29th overall pick of the NBA Draft.
And if his comments last night were any indication, the Bulls general manager will be active in free agency, which begins July 1.
Forman specifically addressed trade rumors that first surfaced after the Bulls first round playoff exit in Philadelphia, when small forward Luol Deng and center Joakim Noah were being floated as potential trade pieces.
We dont respond to rumors. We like the direction in which were headed, Forman said. It was disappointing how this year ended with the injuries, and Ive said short-term, weve taken a little bit of a hit. Weve hit a bump in the road. But as far as what were looking at long-term, we still feel were headed in the right direction.
Forman noted that trade discussions involving the Bulls may have come up, but that the foundation the team had built was too talented to disassemble.
Were we actively shopping our players? Absolutely not. Were there conversations? All 30 teams have conversations about everybody on their roster, Forman said. But we like the core of this team, and its our job to continue putting pieces around Derrick and some of the other core guys and try to continue to trend up.
Many of those rumors stemmed from the strict financial constraints the Bulls will face this off-season. Forman, however, said the team moving forward will look to build on the basketball side first.
Much of that, Forman said, has had to do with Jerry Reinsdorfs commitment to allow the front office to build a winner.
Our decisions up to this point, and our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions. They wont be financial decisions, Forman said. Now, are finances a part of it going out the next three, four, five years? Of course, it always is in any decision you make. But were making basketball decisions.
Many expected the Bulls to draft a shooting guard or scorer on the wing Thursday night. Instead, the Bulls opted for Teague, a 19-year-old who had fallen to the Bulls pick. And while a point guard was not Chicagos most pressing need in the short-term, Forman said the team took both short and long-term needs into their selection process.
Youve got to weight both things, but we thought of what was left that (Teague) was the best prospect left on the board and in a scenario where, going forward, the next three, four, five years were going to have a need there, needs at several places, Forman said. But again, we were going to draft the best player. We werent going to draft for a specific need. Draft the best prospect that was left.
Forman said the team has several positions they must address in free agency, talks they have already discussed as an organization. Starting Sunday, they will begin speaking to free agents directly.
The contract statuses of small forwards Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, and point guard C.J. Watson are sure to be at the forefront of those discussions.
And even with Teague on board, Forman said the team will address the point guard position in free agency. Whether that means bringing back Watson or signing a veteran free agent, someone else is likely to join Teague and the injured Rose in the back court this summer.
We still have to make a decision in regards to C.J., Forman said. And right now, were still gonna have to add another point guard one way or another.
And just as Forman made good on his promise to draft the best player available Thursday night, its also a good bet that the Bulls will be active in the free agency market.