Bulls

Bulls GM Forman coy about team's plans on media day

610354.png

Bulls GM Forman coy about team's plans on media day

In his first official appearance in front of the media, Bulls general manager Gar Forman didn't shed much light on the organization's future transactions. When questioned about issues ranging from the potential acquisition of shooting guard Rip Hamilton and the team's involvement in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes to veteran big man Kurt Thomas signing with Portland and the status of Keith Bogans, last season's starting shooting guard, Forman played coy.

"Really, all I know is what Ive read," Forman said regarding Hamilton, reportedly bought out by the Pistons, though the process might not be completed yet. "I dont want to talk about other teams' players."

About Howard, Forman offered one of his standard lines, saying, "Its our job to be in touch with all 29 teams around the league and we have been in the last week.

"I wouldnt mention individual names or share our business or who were talking to as far as players are concerned," he continued. "Were having conversations throughout the league."

As far as Bogans, Forman reiterated the stance he took in a statement released by the team on Friday, when the veteran shooting guard was pulled off the Berto Center practice floor in the first practice of training camp. However, despite his praise of Bogans, it now seems unlikely that he'll return to Chicago or that the Bulls will have a chance to exercise their 1.73 million team option by the Dec. 19 deadline.

Forman took his shtick even further when Thomas--who reportedly signed a two-year contract with the Trail Blazers--was mentioned, professing that he wasn't aware of the deal for the league's elder statesman, a valuable member of the Bulls' 62-win regular-season team a year ago, before offering platitudes.

"Obviously we wanted Kurt back and we offered Kurt a contract. He was a big part of what we did a year ago," he said. "But Kurt had to evaluate the situation from his perspective and obviously he must have felt that Portland presented a better opportunity off him.

"Well have to have some depth behind them, even if its just from a practice standpoint. Its hard to go through a season with just four bigs. Thats still something were taking a look at, whether we add another four or a five," Forman added, when asked whether the Bulls would another insurance-policy post player to their frontline. "Again, if we dont find the right guy well be patient with it try to keep some flexibility with that position. If we dont address it right away, we may address it down the road."

Forman did offer some clarity as to the Bulls' thought process during the NBA's chaotic, truncated free-agency period, indicating that the franchise would exercise patience and are confident in the current roster.

"It was our goal to bring the nucleus of this team back and we have. We love the makeup and character of this basketball team. What we really like is the chemistry that weve got and the way these guys work together," said Forman. "We're still exploring ways we can improve this basketball team moving forward, and and we still have some roster spots and a little bit of flexibility, and were exploring options, as far as making additions to this team, and hopefully something will happen in regards to that in the next few days.

"The way weve approached this free agency, weve been in contact with a number of players and weve really tried to explore a number of different options we feel we would have a chance to improve this basketball team. If we find the right player or players that we feel give us a chance to get better, well certainly make a move. That said, our feeling has always been were not going to make a move just to make a move. If we dont feel its a plus for this team, well bring this team back as is and feel really good about our group of guys and give them a chance to continue to grow," he continued. "I dont want to talk about specific players, but obviously right now weve got 11 guys under contract and we still have some spots to fill and some flexibility as to how we approach it."

One thing the general manager didn't hem and haw about, however, was their efforts in the process to get the league MVP signed to a long-term extension to remain in his hometown.

"Derrick is the centerpiece of what were trying to put together here. Obviously, we want Derrick to be a Chicago Bull for a long, long time," said Forman. "To us, its obviously very important that we put the right pieces around Derrick and hes able to have success, that we have success, and that he remains a Chicago Bull.

"Were talking to his representatives now and hopefully well be able to get something done in a pretty short amount of time."

Bucks owner Marc Lasry received some sound advice from Michael Jordan

marc_lasry-bucks_owner.jpg
USA TODAY

Bucks owner Marc Lasry received some sound advice from Michael Jordan

The Milwaukee Bucks, led by reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, are on quite a tear this year. Per NBA.com, the Bucks are No. 2 in the league offensive rating, No. 1 in defensive rating—and by the way, they are a full 2.7 points ahead of the second-best defense—and No. 1 by a very wide margin (5.1 points) in net rating. Any way you slice it, the 2019-20 Bucks have been one of the most dominant regular season teams in NBA history. So with all of that being said, it is no shock that Bucks owner Marc Lasry has lofty goals for his team, including matching the incredible 72-win season of the 1996 Bulls. 

According to a report from Eric Woodyard of ESPN, Lasry spoke with the leader of the '96 Bulls (guess who?) at Friday's Bucks-Charlotte Hornets matchup at AccorHotels Arena in France. Michael Jordan offered up some sound advice for Nasry, who told MJ that he wanted his 2019-20 Bucks to try to be like the '96 Bulls in becoming a part of the illustrious group of teams in NBA history to have won 70+ regular season games. All-time only two teams have won 70+ regular season NBA games, the MJ-Scottie Pippen led '96 Bulls and of course, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who went on to break the Bulls' record by winning 73 games. 

That memorable '16 Warriors season ultimately ended in heartbreak for the Dubs as they lost the NBA Finals in seven games to the LeBron James-Kyrie Irving-Kevin Love-led Cleveland Cavaliers. A prevailing thought was that the amount of energy the Warriors expended in going for the regular season record came back to haunt them in the playoffs, a similar sentiment shared by Jordan in his advice to Nasry. 

Look, my advice to you is don't focus on beating our record, focus on winning a championship.

-Michael Jordan's advice to Bucks owner Marc Lasry on how to handle this season

Nasry maintained that he wants the Bucks to "do everything," including winning 70+ games and collecting the second NBA title in franchise history. Milwaukee has 35 games left in the regular season and they don't look they have any intention of taking their foot off the gas anytime soon. Entering Wednesday morning, the Bucks are on a nine-game winning streak. Their latest win (on Tuesday night) came without Antetokounmpo playing, but guard Khris Middleton poured in a career-high 51 points in a game in which Milwaukee won by 20 and scored a whopping 151 points.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer has managed the Bucks minutes well enough to go all out and even try to break the Warriors' 73-win mark but as Jordan advised, NBA Championships should always be the primary focus. But Nasry is also aware of the place in NBA lore the 2019-20 Bucks would hold when we look back on it IF they can accomplish all of his lofty goals. As Nasry himself stated, "we're going to focus on beating your [the 1996 Bulls] record and winning a championship.' I think we should do everything, but that's me."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

 

Thaddeus Young takes on expanded role in Bulls’ offense

Thaddeus Young takes on expanded role in Bulls’ offense

With the NBA trade deadline coming up on February 6, there has been speculation around the league that Bulls forward Thaddeus Young could be headed to a title-contending team. Mostly because his first year in Chicago hasn’t gone the way anyone anticipated.

Young agreed to a three-year contract with the Bulls in the opening hours of free agency last summer and was expected to add veteran experience and dependable two-way production to one of the league’s youngest teams. But with Jim Boylen and his staff installing new offensive and defensive systems during training camp, Young found himself not fitting in as well as he envisioned during his discussions with the Bulls in the free agent process.

The 31-year-old forward is averaging the fewest minutes and points per game since his rookie year with Philadelphia in the 2007-08 season. There were reports last month that Young was unhappy with his role and might even seek out a trade if the situation didn’t change.

Young’s minutes have gradually increased since that time, and he’s now moved into the starting lineup because of injuries to Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford. He’s still not being used in post-ups as much as he was with the Pacers and Nets, but Young’s offensive role has grown in recent games. Young has played at least 29 minutes over the last three games, and he’s averaging 10.2 points per game over his last 10.

At times Young seems like an odd fit as a weak side spot-up 3-point shooter, but that’s often what is called for in the Bulls’ current offensive system.

The 13-year NBA veteran is at his best attacking the rim, shooting jump hooks off post-ups, or crashing the offensive boards for second shot opportunities. As seen in the video above, the Bulls even ran a post-up play for Young on their first possession against the Spurs on Monday night.

With Markkanen sidelined, and the Bulls currently only two games out of the final playoff spot in the East, it seems unlikely Young will be traded before next Thursday’s deadline. He’s finally getting a chance to provide some of the on-court production everyone expected when he signed with the Bulls last July.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.