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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls got some immediate help, a prospect for the future and some salary relief in Thursday's NBA draft.
The team swung a trade with the Rockets to get forward Nikola Mirotic with Houston's 23rd pick. The Bulls then selected Marquette forward Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick.
Butler could join the rotation immediately, while it could be years until Mirotic suits up for Tom Thibodeau's team. Mirotic signed an extension with Real Madrid in late April that keeps him under contract until the 2015-16 season, according to the Spanish club's website.
The Bulls took Cleveland State guard Norris Cole at No. 28 but traded him and the No. 43 pick (UCLA guard Malcolm Lee) to Minnesota for the rights to Mirotic, whom Houston took at No. 23 and had dealt to the Timberwolves. Minnesota agreed to send Cole to the Miami Heat, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman said the organization would have no problems keeping a player in Europe for a few years to develop before bringing him over to play with the Bulls.
"We've done it in the past and Omer Asik is a good example of that," Forman said on ESPN 1000's Chicago's Gamenight on Thursday night. "We went into this draft possessing three picks and we certainly didn't feel we were in a position to keep three rookies, and maybe even two rookies. We obviously want to continue to bring young players into our situation, but at the same time, we feel we're at a level now where we're trying to compete and get better and compete for championships. We've still got a lot of work to do and we've still got roster spots and some different avenues we can take to try and improve our team. Now that the draft's over that's where we're headed next."
Not only did the Bulls not want to keep three rookies on the roster, they also didn't want to handcuff the payroll with those salaries. They likely will still pursue a shooting guard through free agency this offseason and also need to reward MVP Derrick Rose with a max contract after the 2012-13 season.
Forman believes he has filled at least one of the open roster spots in the 6-foot-8 Butler, who averaged 15.7 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Golden Eagles. Butler was strong on the offensive glass, averaging 2.4 offensive rebounds per game in the rugged Big East. He stood out to the Bulls in his interviews because of his work ethic, and it seems clear in speaking with Bulls personnel that he will fit into the type of culture the team has tried to build over the past season under Thibodeau.
The prospect of playing with Rose was an exciting one to Butler.
"I think he's going to be maybe the best player in this league one day. ... I just want to help this team win games," Butler told "Chicago's Gamenight" on ESPN 1000 minutes after being drafted. "That's what I'm here for. I want to win just like he wants to win. And I'm gonna do everything I can to bring it. [Give it] my all every day and hope that I can help us win a championship."
Butler added that he looks forward to helping the Bulls do what they were unable to do in the 2011 playoffs: defeat the Miami Heat."They just need somebody to go out there and guard," Butler said. "I'm telling you I'm going to make [Dwyane Wade], [LeBron James] work for every dribble, for every shot, for every step that they take. I'm gonna try to make it my hardest on them."
In his first season with Real Madrid's senior club, the 6-10 Mirotic averaged 8.1 points per game in 29 league games and 6.6 in 20 Euroleague contests.
ESPN's Chad Ford rated Mirotic as the fifth-best small forward in this year's draft class.
"We're excited about what we accomplished, and with Jimmy Butler who we took with the 30th pick," Forman told "Chicago's Gamenight." "We think is a guy that's a real fit for us. Is a fit on the floor with the versatility he brings defensively and some of the things he can do offensively and is a real fit with our team off the floor. The type of makeup and character he has I think he'll fit in our locker room and with the culture we're creating. "Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.