As a former college assistant coach and recruiter, Gar Forman lives for draft day.
The Bulls' general manager loves working his college contacts, trying to navigate the maze of misinformation to land a rotation player or — better yet — starter no matter the franchise's draft position.
"Every year, people say it's a strong draft or weak draft," Forman said at last month's draft combine. "In our minds, there are always opportunities in the draft. And it's our job to discover guys who will fit with our culture and team."
More often than not, Forman, executive vice president John Paxson and their scouting staff have succeeded. From Ben Gordon to Derrick Rose to Joakim Noah to Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, the hits have outnumbered the misses. (Paging Tyrus Thomas and Marquis Teague, and the jury remains out on Tony Snell, who would look good in a Gorgui Dieng uniform.)
The Bulls are back on the clock for Thursday night's NBA draft. With the 16th and 19th picks, the Bulls' needs remain the same — a wing shooter, a backup big man, a backup point or combo guard adept at lessening Rose's ball-handling responsibilities.
The Bulls also own the 49th pick in the second round.
The Bulls obviously can't drive the action from their current position, which as of late Wednesday hadn't changed despite consistent attempts to package their picks for one lottery pick. But by the time Adam Silver finishes his first set of first-round handshakes as NBA commissioner, the two surprises would be if the Bulls added two rookies for next season's roster and didn't address shooting.
This draft is stocked with shooters, and Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau have mentioned addressing that need enough to qualify for NRA membership.
The Bulls have scouted, interviewed and conducted private workouts with all the top shooters, including Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas, Rodney Hood and James Young.
"From a philosophical standpoint, we're always going to draft who we feel is the best player available," Forman said at the NBA scouting combine. "If it's close between two guys and we think one can fill a need for us, we may put a little weight into that."
The Bulls have had trade talks with the Magic regarding veteran swingman Arron Afflalo, and league sources indicated they have inquired about Jameer Nelson as well. Carlos Boozer's expiring $16.8 million salary has been available and a trade could be a more palatable option than using the amnesty provision on him. Nelson's partially guaranteed $8 million deal can be waived before July 15 for $2 million.
ESPN.com reported the Heat at No. 26 could target the Bulls to try to move up and draft point guard Shabazz Napier from national champion Connecticut. The report suggested the Heat would use as an enticement Norris Cole, whom the Bulls coincidentally picked in 2011 and traded to Minnesota in the Nikola Mirotic deal.
But the Bulls could just draft Napier outright rather than making this deal if they're sold on the undersized but competitive guard.
Whatever happens Thursday, that's the first step of what promises to be a busy summer. The Bulls are confident they will get an audience with Carmelo Anthony in free agency, with a backup plan of Mirotic and assorted pieces.
"We want to continue to add to our roster and have a fuller roster," Forman said at the combine. "We're optimistic with two picks in the top-20 that we can get two pieces that will help us down the road."
Twitter @kcjhoopCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun