Gar/Pax now turn focus to NBA draft and finding an athlete

For the Bulls’ front office, transparency remains an elusive goal.

Management expressed a desire to change — last training camp, it even said a new day was dawning — but old habits die hard with general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

Alas, Gar/Pax didn’t even issue a release to say 2016 first-round pick Denzel Valentine had his troublesome left ankle scoped this week  with the hope of being ready for the start of Summer League play in July.

If the 76ers are still employing the “Trust the Process’’ mantra, it’s not too late for the Bulls to promote their own mission statement and have “Distrust the Process’’ thrown on some T-shirts.

The immediate concern for Forman and Paxson, however, isn’t repairing bridges with the fourth estate as much as preparing for the draft June 22.

The Bulls will have the 16th and 38th picks. They also have a ton of questions about which direction they’re heading in. Forman insists they always have a plan.

“Our philosophy has been we’re going to draft who we feel the best player on the board is at that time,’’ he said. “We take from physical tools to their skill level to their ceiling, obviously their background work. All those things are taken into account.’’

It’s simple and vague at the same time.

The Bulls’ weaknesses were glaring throughout the regular season and even more conspicuous in their loss to the top-seeded Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Athleticism and outside shooting remain concerns, and the team needs another point guard to back up Rajon Rondo.

Up 2-0 against Boston, Rondo fractured his thumb, and the bottom fell out of the offense.

The Celtics made some key adjustments on both ends of the floor to counteract the Bulls’ strategy, but it was a different-looking team with Rondo in street clothes.

Paxson could at least admit to a faulty roster from his office.

“Rajon goes down, and we fall apart,’’ Paxson said. “We didn’t have the support system behind him to help us win that series.

“We have to support [coach Fred Hoiberg], continue to give him the resources he needs to be successful. And that’s on us. That’s what we’re diving into every day now. That’s our responsibility, and we’ll do it.’’

Unless the Bulls are expecting huge jumps from Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne, there is no in-house solution to the backup-point-guard problem. With the 16th pick, the Bulls likely won’t resolve the issue through the draft, either.

That means hitting the free-agent pavement or swinging for the fences and putting a package together to acquire D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers.

The Bulls, however, can get an athlete in this draft, and here are three names to keep an eye on:

Terrance Ferguson – 6-7  guard, Australia – Can score from outside and play the game above the rim — and isn’t allergic to defense.

Donovan Mitchell – 6-3 guard, Louisville – Opened eyes at the combine with a 6-10 wingspan and a 36.5-inch standing vertical leap.

Hamidou Diallo – 6-5 guard, Kentucky – The big mystery of the draft, he had a 44.5-inch maximum vertical — the second-highest ever at the combine.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.
Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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