Gar Forman insisted on draft night that the Bulls have every intention to sit down with free agent Joakim Noah and discuss the future come July 1.
They need not bother.
A source close to the situation not only shot down a report last month that the Bulls and Noah were having early “positive dialogue’’ on coming back together, but reiterated a Sun-Times story from late May in which Noah was telling teammates that he had no trust in the direction the front office was taking the team.
So chalk up Forman’s optimism to the Bulls general manager simply trying to win the press conference.
Not an easy mountain to climb for the organization these days.
According to the source, Noah and his agent, Bill Duffy, have already been gathering information on possible destinations, with a specific priority list in mind. First and foremost, Noah wants a chance to win. Followed closely by a chance to start, as well as finish games, and also a team that will continue to get behind his Noah’s Arc Foundation.
While several on the outside have speculated that Noah would simply go for the money, the source called that “naïve.’’
“They obviously don’t know Jo’s make-up,’’ the source said.
The New York Knicks were always a possibility for Noah, but really jumped into the picture on Wednesday, after acquiring Noah’s good friend and long-time teammate, Derrick Rose, in a five-player deal.
The idea that the Washington Wizards were preparing a max offer for Noah has since been shot down, but D.C. is still interested in nabbing the veteran.
There’s also the idea of reuniting with former coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota and helping the up-and-coming Timberwolves find their way. Noah had his best success under Thibodeau, including winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the 2013-14 season, as well as finishing fourth in the MVP voting that year.
Forman also indicated this week that the Bulls would be willing to sit down with free agent-to-be Pau Gasol come the start of free agency.
Again, save the energy.
All indications are Gasol wants to win now. A rebuild – or “retool’’ – isn’t in the plans.
To add some further clouds to the Bulls frontcourt rotation, a league source said that the Bulls have been talking to several teams about the possibility of moving Taj Gibson. The power forward is in the final year of his contract, scheduled to make $8.9 million.
If they do in fact send Gibson elsewhere, that would leave a frontcourt of Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio, and some serious money to spend.
So who are the possibilities to spend that money on?
That’s where it gets tricky.
The likes of Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside and Bismark Biyombo are either expected to stay put or are far too expensive for a Bulls team that is focusing on the free agent class of 2017 as the real gold mine.
That leaves that next tier of free-agent frontcourt players:
Jared Sullinger – 6-9 – Restricted – The big man could be on his way out of Boston, and plays with a high IQ, as well as some toughness. The problem is his condition and athleticism have always been a question, and not an ideal fit for Fred Hoiberg’s high-paced offense.
Ryan Anderson – 6-10 – Unrestricted – A definition of a stretch four, and with Mirotic a free agent after this season …
Terrence Jones – 6-9 – Restricted – A great athlete for Hoiberg’s system, but has shown far too many disappearing moments.