Nate Robinson lights a fire under the Bulls emotionally and is their only point guard whose health isn’t suspect this season. | Brian Kersey~AP
Updated: July 30, 2013 8:51AM
It’s a nice thought from Gar Forman and the Bulls, but business isn’t always nice.
While the general manager indicated Thursday night that the organization would like to bring back free agents-to-be Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed, there’s a good chance that only Mohammed will return.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Robinson and his camp have made it clear that the point guard will move on in search of a multiyear contract. If that contract isn’t made available, next on his wish list is a one-year deal with a team that will give him extended playing time.
Those are wishes the Bulls can’t grant.
Technically, the Bulls can’t start talking with agents until July 1. But it was made clear to Robinson the day after the playoffs ended that he would be more of an insurance policy with Derrick Rose expected to be up and running and with Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague as backups. Robinson was told that he could see time at either guard position, but he wouldn’t play the heavy minutes he did last season while Rose was sidelined.
Robinson knows that his value might never be higher after a season in which he silenced critics who said that he wasn’t the most coachable player. If a player puts in a year under coach Tom Thibodeau and mostly steers clear of the doghouse, that’s an accomplishment.
On the other hand, Belinelli would like to return, but he likely would have to give the Bulls a discount to do so. The market is expected to price Belinelli out of Chicago.
“Some will depend on what the market is. They’ve got to get a feel from that, we’ve got to get a feel from that,’’ Forman said of those players returning. “But we certainly want to bring back some of the guys that we had last year if it’s the right fit as far as both sides are concerned.’’
With the Bulls choosing outside shooters Tony Snell and Erik Murphy in the NBA draft on Thursday, they still didn’t address the hole behind center Joakim Noah. Taj Gibson showed that he can come off the bench and play center in certain matchups, but he’s still a power forward.
Mohammed is cheap, knows the system and played well in the last six weeks.
The only way the free-agent outlook changes for the Bulls is if they are able to unload the last year of Luol Deng’s $14.3 million contract, but that doesn’t sound like a priority. The Bulls believe that they are a team that can challenge next season with all the parts returning and healthy.
“Luol is a big piece of what we’re doing,’’ Forman sad. “He’s been a big piece of the success we’ve had the last couple of years, and he’ll continue to be a big piece of what we’re doing moving forward.”
According to Forman, Rose has worked out at the Berto Center almost daily, and he hasn’t been alone.
“Really everything has been positive,’’ Forman said of the health problems that crushed the Bulls most of the season.
“Joakim [plantar fasciitis] is feeling a lot better, Derrick [left knee] continues to — you know, he’s in here, he’s working every day — continues to feel good and making progress. Luol [complications from a spinal tap]is feeling better, and Kirk [calf] has been in here pretty much every day working out. So we’re headed in the right direction there.’’