Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Updated: June 22, 12:36 PM ET
Bulls GM plans to keep picks
By Nick Friedell
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The Chicago Bulls have two first-round selections (Nos. 28 and 30) in Thursday night's NBA draft and general manager Gar Forman expects the team to make both picks and keep the players on the roster. Forman believes there will still be talent for the Bulls to find late in the first round.
"Obviously, like always, we've spent a lot of time studying this draft and studying the players," Forman said on Tuesday morning. "Any draft, we've spent years studying guys. And not only on the floor, but getting a lot of background information which is very important to how we make selections. Our feeling is, really at the back end of the draft, that there's going to be some good players there for us. You never know how a draft will fall. When we broke it down, I think there were 20 players or something in there that we feel will definitely be gone, and then of that next group of players that we're looking at, we think we'll get two guys that will be serviceable players, that will fit with us."
Despite the prevailing feeling amongst fans and media that the Bulls need to upgrade at the 2-guard position, Forman said the Bulls will most likely pick the proverbial "best player available" when it comes time to make a selection.
"I've always been a huge believer that you draft the best player available," Forman said. "Every team in the league has certain needs and when you look at needs in my mind, there's three ways to fill them -- it's not just the draft. You've got free agency, you've got trades and you've got the draft. And I think when you're higher up in the draft, which we've been at times in the past, that if you have guys that are tiered closely together that you may go for need. I think when you're drafting as late as we're drafting that we're not necessarily going to go for need. We'll go for two guys that we think fit the culture that we've created and that can be part of our rotation, if not immediately, and we would hope immediately, but if not immediately, then somewhere down the road and trying to build some depth."
Many names have been thrown around for the Bulls. In his latest mock draft, ESPN.com's Chad Ford has the Bulls taking Richmond power forward Justin Harper at No. 28 and UCLA swingman Tyler Honeycutt at No. 30.
Forman essentially admitted that it is unlikely the Bulls would make a big move on draft night, but he didn't rule out the possibility, noting that he continues to work the phones, looking for upgrades to the roster.
"You never know what's out there," he said. "Where we're at today ... I think we're headed in the right direction. I think we've made a lot of progress and taken some real steps as far as getting where we want to go. And we're certainly not in a situation where we're looking to rebuild or make drastic changes, unless we thought it was an opportunity that definitely makes us better. We like the nucleus of this team and again, it's a young team that we feel still can grow together moving forward. You never say never to anything, but we do feel that this team's really got a chance to continue to improve and it's our job to improve this team, keep the nucleus together for the most part, and then make some improvements to try and address some needs."
The Bulls are hoping some of those needs are filled on Thursday night.
The Bulls also have a second-round pick, 43rd overall. Ford projects the Bulls do grab a No. 2 guard in Purdue's E'Twaun Moore.
Forman said the Bulls have interviewed and worked out approximately 40-50 players over the past few weeks.
"Some people may say, 'Well, why do you bring so many guys in for two spots late in the first round?' But to us it gives us a chance to start to get a baseline as to who guys are that may come up in the future, whether it's via trade or free agency, three, four or five years down the line," Forman said. "This process that starts when kids are very young really never ends until they're out of the league. The more information we can get on guys the better."
Despite the optimism, Forman understands that picking so low in the first round, as well as having the pick in the second round, is always a crapshoot.
"It's hard," he said. "You go back and study the draft over the years, with those late picks at 28 and 30, more times than not it's not going to be an impact guy. ... We hope we can get a guy that can make an impact, but even if he doesn't we want to get somebody that fits us, that we can get in our building, working with our coaches on a daily basis. And that we think in two or three years, if nothing else, would have a chance to be rotation guys for us."
No matter whom the Bulls decide to select on Thursday, it's clear that Forman feels confident with the direction of his team.
"It was really positive how our team came together," he said. "With that said, we're not adverse to making changes if we feel that it makes our team better. That's something that we're looking into all the time. ... We're not just trying to accumulate talent, we're trying to build a team. And we're trying to make sure that the pieces fit together. Do we have needs? We still do have needs. Most teams do. And that's our job to try to address those. But at the same time, I don't see drastic changes on the horizon. We've got a team that we think can be competitive for years to come."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.