By Cody Westerlund–

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the third time since a disastrous season ended, Bulls general manager Gar Forman on Thursday night after the completion of the NBA Draft had a chance to fully back All-Star wing Jimmy Butler as the franchise centerpiece.

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Forman went further than he had before in his support of Butler, but predictably, the dialogue still strained belief at times and was contradictory. After initially saying “there was no discussion during the entire draft this evening as far as Jimmy Butler was concerned,” Forman later acknowledged the Bulls “had talks … about moving up.”

Logic suggests there’s no way they could’ve considered moving up unless Butler was on the table. And the Bulls did engage in conversations with the Celtics to acquire the No. 3 pick and other pieces while shipping out Butler, according to reports from The Vertical, ESPN and the Chicago Tribune.

The Celtics kept their pick. The Bulls were also tied to having talks with the Timberwolves, who drafted Providence guard Kris Dunn at No. 5. Forman admitted the Bulls were fond of Dunn.

They’re more fond of Butler.

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“We have never made a call in regards to Jimmy Butler,” Forman said. “We’ve talked about we value Jimmy Butler, we’re very happy to have Jimmy Butler. We’ve got a terrific basketball player who’s an All-Star, an all-NBA defender, is still young. Obviously, we’ve got him under contract long term. Those are all positives. He again is what we want to be.

“We’ve said this all along. We like Jimmy Butler. We did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that’s our job to listen to calls. We get calls on a lot of our players. And that’s stuff that happens all throughout the league.”

Coincidence or not, Butler made a quick appearance at the Advocate Center on Thursday night, but Forman said he wasn’t even aware Butler was in the building.

“When you have a special player like Jimmy, in order to really take a hard look at something, it’s got to be something that’s going to  knock your socks off, something that’s really special,” Forman said. “We never felt we were presented with anything where we would consider moving Jimmy.

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“We never made a single call. We’re not looking to move Jimmy.”