By Cody Westerlund–
(CBS) Much was made about the Bulls selling their second-round pick to the Warriors for a reported $3.5 million in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, given that the team had just embarked on an organizational rebuild hours earlier with the blockbuster trade of star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So was there any point of parting ways with the No. 38 overall pick — Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who’s lauded for his defensive prowess — other than lining the pockets of ownership. General manager Gar Forman maintained there was.
“The guys that we were high on as second-round picks, the board dried up,” Forman said in an interview on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on Friday afternoon. “And in that situation, we thought having the flexibility with the roster spot and some more financial flexibility as far as our roster is concerned was better than throwing a dart to a guy we don’t really like. If we liked a guy, obviously we were going to take him.
“We’d rather have the flexibility with that roster spot rather than add a guy we’re really not that high on.”
There were some points Forman didn’t make that are worth noting for argument’s sake. Because second-round picks often sign for around the minimum salary and have less guaranteed money, it’s not all that much of a financial burden to escape from. And if the Bulls part ways with Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Canaan amid a crowded point guard situation, they’ll enter free agency with 10 players on the roster, with the intention — but no guarantee — to still retain Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio to get to 12. Teams can carry rosters of up to 15 in the regular season, though the Bulls usually prefer 13 or 14.
All that aside, Forman’s most meaningful point comes back to this: The Bulls are open to taking on a bad contract with asset(s) attached — much like the Nets just did in acquiring the talented-but-unproven D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers along with Timofey Mozgov and his $48 million guaranteed over three years.
To make moves like that, you often need an extra roster spot available.
“We also want to have flexibility with our roster where we’ve got roster spots in order to take advantage of opportunities that may come via trade,” Forman said. “Whether it’s two players for one or taking a player because we’re going to have flexibility financially — as we look at the big picture, maybe there’s a situation next year where we’ve got to take a contract back that is helping another team get off that contract and we’re getting some type of asset for that.”
Listen to Forman’s full interview below.