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Bulls rumors unlikely to become reality

Rumors involving Luol Deng (above) HarrisBarnes BrandRoy have popped up as NBA draft approaches. | Sun-Times

Rumors involving Luol Deng (above), Harrison Barnes and Brandon Roy have popped up as the NBA draft approaches. | Sun-Times

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Updated: July 28, 2012 6:30AM

The Bulls are interested in former Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy.

The Bulls have had discussions with teams about trading Luol Deng for a chance to move into the lottery to pick up North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes in Thursday night’s draft.

The Bulls have also kicked around the idea of trading every other player on their roster because exploring options is what franchises do during the offseason.

Whatever rumors may be circulating about the Bulls doesn’t change the reality that their best opportunity to remake their roster will come next offseason or the offseason after that.

Vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are keeping the big picture in mind. Forman has acknowledged that Derrick Rose’s torn ACL and Deng’s likely wrist surgery are short-terms setbacks on a journey that they hope ends in the franchise’s seventh NBA title.

The Bulls’ brain trust doesn’t think the team’s situation is as bleak as many in the sky-is-falling crowd insist. They believe they have a team that — when healthy — can compete with and defeat the newly minted NBA champion Miami Heat.

The Bulls also have assets moving forward: 2011 first-round pick Nikola Mirotic, a two-time winner of the “Rising Star” award as the Spanish League’s top young player and the conditional first-round pick they acquired from the Bobcats in a 2010 trade for Tyrus Thomas.

The bet here is the Bulls will continue to explore their options but will ultimately resist making significant changes to a roster heading into a season where they will be hard-pressed to contend for a championship for reasons beyond their control. After next season, the Bulls could rid themselves of Carlos Boozer’s burdensome contract. Deng’s deal comes off the books the year after that.

The Bulls will take a step back next season but it may not be as big of a step as many believe given the current state of the Eastern Conference. Forman has said repeatedly that this core group of players has earned the right to grow together. They could make one more run in 2013-14 before remaking the roster in the summer of 2014.

That doesn’t mean the rumors will stop and the speculation will end. The Bulls are doing what they should be doing. They are working the phones and testing the market.

More likely, this Bulls team will remain mostly the same next season with major changes coming further down the road.

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