Opening Tip: Bulls still excited about future

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
11:21
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's latest injury may have closed the Chicago Bulls' championship window this season, but GM Gar Forman does not believe the window is closed for good.

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"From a long-term perspective, we still feel like we're in a really good place," Forman said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Slvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I say that because we still feel we've got good players that are in their 20s in Taj [Gibson], Joakim [Noah], Jimmy [Butler] and Tony [Snell], who we're really high on and is playing well. We've got a Charlotte pick coming [from the Tyrus Thomas trade in 2010]. We've got all our picks into the future. [Nikola] Mirotic at some point in the future. And then we will have a level of flexibility that we haven't had under this new CBA because we had a lot of contracts from this previous CBA that put us in a spot where there wasn't a lot of financial flexibility.

"So, long term, there's not a whole lot that changes. We already ... we've planned out some moves that we think we need to make and want to make going forward, and that's something we'll continue to evaluate as far as building this team to what our ultimate goal is -- to compete for a championship year in and year out."

As it pertains to Mirotic, Forman and the Bulls are still confident that the European star will be able to come over to the NBA next summer, but the process to get him out of his current deal is complicated.

"He's still under contract there [with Real Madrid]," Forman said. "But we've talked about once a guy is three years out from his draft class, then he's no longer restricted to the rookie-scale contract for the slot that he was picked. So that begins this summer, which means our hope is we'll be able to have dialogue this summer with the possibility of getting him over."

Cautious with Butler: Butler still has not practiced while he recovers from turf toe, and Forman made it seem like he would continue to be out at least a few more days.

"We'll be conservative with his rehab," Forman said. "So far, he's making good progress. There hasn't been any setbacks. I think if we brought him back too early, it could be something that could linger. But there was nothing structurally wrong. It's turf toe, which is basically a sprain. So the big thing was getting the swelling out and now getting the mobility back and the strength back. It still is a week-to-week process, but he's making good progress."

The last word: Tom Thibodeau, before Tuesday's game, on the progression of Snell:

"I think he's done a really good job, actually, from the point that we drafted him. He worked extremely hard all summer. He did a good job in the preseason, and even when he wasn't playing he was practicing well and he was really preparing himself to play. So, usually what happens with those guys when they work like that, and they prepare themselves that way, when the opportunity does roll around, they're usually ready for it, and he's done that. And he's not satisfied. Each day he comes in, he tries to improve. When he makes a mistake, he tries to correct it and not repeat the same mistake twice. He's done a good job for us."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.1 3.3 1.8 39.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.8
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.8
BlocksP. Gasol 2.1