Updated: July 16, 2013 7:02PM
Finally, some clarity.
Not just speculation or offseason rumors, but some good old fashioned, here’s-the-plan talk from Bulls general manager Gar Forman.
A plan that will include All-Star forward Luol Deng staying put for at least one more season.
“Well, we love Luol,’’ Forman, who arrived into Vegas on Monday to watch Summer League play, said. “We see Luol as a valuable member of this team moving forward, so the window is open to talk about an extension. We’ve had some conversations. Whether something gets done, I don’t know. But whether it’s this summer or next summer, those are conversations we’ll continue to have.’’
And conversations they have time to have.
Deng becomes a free agent after the 2013-14 campaign. There had been rumors floating around that the Bulls were shopping Deng earlier this summer, but Forman said that wasn’t the case.
With Derrick Rose deemed 100 percent for the start of preseason after missing all of last year with the torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the decision had been made early on to let this core group of Rose, Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer have one more go at it.
One last stand.
“I mean our goal has been to bring this group back, and I know [Deng’s] name was floated out there [in trade rumors], but we didn’t initiate calls,’’ Forman said. “We’ve gotten calls on some of our guys, but our goal has been to bring this group back healthy.’’
After this season? Well, all bets are off.
Deng can test the market and Boozer can be amnestied with just one more year on his contract. That would still keep a core of Noah, Rose and Jimmy Butler together, but also give Forman and the Bulls a financial flexibility they haven’t had in years.
The kind of flexibility that will allow them to at least be players in the sequel to LeBron James’ next decision.
“Here’s the thing: We put this team together and then the new CBA came out,’’ Forman said. “The new CBA is very restrictive in your ability to improve your basketball team because it’s taken away a lot of the avenues there are to continue to build your team. So I’ve talked about it as almost a stock market correction.
“We like our team, we have a good group of guys, but we haven’t had flexibility. Next summer will be the first chance we have to have some level of flexibility in order to add to the team.
Adding another big-name player to the roster won’t be the only business at hand next summer. They can also start talking to prized Euro-draft pick Nikola Mirotic, who has been displaying some serious game in the Spanish League ever since the Bulls selected him 23rd in the 2011 Draft.
“We knew he wouldn’t be able to come under the rookie scale slot that he was drafted, so we knew it would be at least three years,’’ Forman said of Mirotic. “And it could be longer, but we’re hopeful at that point there will be an opportunity to bring him over.’’
That, however, is talk for next summer. Forman’s mindset now is one more run at the Miami Heat with an all too familiar group.
“Like I said from when we started this process with these guys, I don’t want to put a ceiling on what they could become,’’ Forman said of his Big Four. “I think they’ve shown when healthy we can have a certain level of success.’’
But one that definitely comes with a shelf life.