CHICAGO — The Bulls failed to pull the trigger on any deal at the trade deadline on Thursday, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. In fact it was the exact opposite of that; GM Gus Forman was actively and aggressively perusing Memphis Grizzlies O.J. Mayo. Forman even put out a formal offer for to Memphis: Ronnie Brewer and draft picks for the guard.
Memphis was uninterested in parting with Mayo at that price. They wanted Omer Asik or Taj Gibson and that was too much, Forman thought, to give up.
“I obviously get asked about those players quite a bit,” Forman said. “We’re very high on both of them. We think not only for what they can do for our team today, but I think there is so much potential for growth with both of those players. Taj is in his second year in the league, and obviously Omer is a rookie. If you look back historically at teams that have had great success in this league, size matters. It’s a big deal. You’ve got to have size on the front line and thus to us, those two guys are very, very valuable.”
But just despite the fact the Bulls failed to acquire anything other than a first round pick from Toronto, Forman says it wasn’t a loss at all. He is completely content with the team that has been crafted. “We’ve gone from where we were kind of stuck in mediocrity to what we feel is a good, young team. At this point that’s what we’re doing; we’re building a team. We’re not just trying to acquire talent. We’re trying to get the right pieces that fit the players that we have. When you have Derrick Rose, it kind of gives you direction.”
Deal or No Deal with Houston
Another man the Bulls were hot and bothered for was Houston Rocket’s guard Courtney Lee. It actually looked like that was the most likely deal for the Bulls. Mayo was a nice thought but his $4 million-plus contract seemed a little stiff for Chicago to take on. Lee was much cheaper and it looked as though Houston was in need of back-court space, which appeared to make Lee expendable. After all Houston is trying to make room for Terrance Williams in the future. But Houston, as did everyone else, wanted either Taj Gibson or Omer Asik and the Bulls were very adamant that they were sticking to their guns and not trading either of them.
It turns out Houston was in need of clearing some space as they chose to unload Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks rather than Courtney Lee. The Bulls missed out on a chance to add another sure-fire shooting threat to add to Rose’s dominating presence on the court. This was a popular topic of conversation last night against the Heat as every time the reserves were on the court, there was a sense of unease and that the pendulum had swung the way Miami. That was a problem that needed to be solved at the deadline. Sure the Bulls managed to pull on out last night but it wasn’t the bench doing it in the end, and had there been some depth to the rotations last night, Chicago may have pulled away with the game a lot sooner.
Let’s Make a Deal…at a Later Date
No matter how much the Bulls needed to make a trade, it’s time to just accept the fact no deals were made that will have an immediate impact. But that doesn’t mean the Bulls lost out completely.
Yes, every team in the East that is contending for a championship made a move from the good (The Nets and Knicks adding Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony respectively) to the plain ugly (Boston giving away Kendrick Perkins), but the Bulls are primed for a future run at a trade.
The only deal Chicago made was trading former first round pick James Johnson to the Raptors for a future first round pick. This means that the Bulls have potentially four future number one picks to use as bargaining chips in later deals. “We want to position ourselves for when the right opportunity presents itself,” Forman said. “That right opportunity did not present itself at this trade deadline, which is fine, because we like the basketball team that we have and we certainly like the direction we’re headed.”
The Bulls are guaranteed to make a move in the next two weeks as after trading Johnson, Chicago only has 12 men on the roster and the NBA requires 13.
“The buyout market is something we will have to study over the weekend and see if there are some other buyouts, some other potential guys who might be on the market,” Forman said. “We have a week or two to add at least one guy, and we’ll probably add a couple guys before it’s all said and done.”
So even if it’s not a trade, Chicago will be making a move. Whether or not it will have the type of impact a trade would have had it yet to be determined. One thing is clear though: this move won’t require giving anything of great value up and that is a win in Forman’s book.