ANDREW SELIGMAN,AP Sports Writer
DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bulls won a league-leading 62 games last season.
They boast the league’s MVP and coach of the year. They play in one of the biggest markets, too, so it’s not hard to see why they might be a desirable destination.
“The sense that I get in talking to a number of different agents is that Chicago is a very, very attractive place to go as of this time,” general manager Gar Forman said.
Attractive enough for, say, Dwight Howard?
Forman wasn’t about to go there, and he wasn’t divulging much about Richard Hamilton, either. He had little to say about both players Sunday.
Hamilton is widely expected to land in Chicago once his buyout with Detroit is finalized and he clears waivers, joining MVP Derrick Rose in the backcourt.
Forman, however, wasn’t tipping his hand, insisting “really, all I know is what I’ve read” and he didn’t want to talk about other team’s players.
The same goes for Howard.
The Magic granted New Jersey, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers permission to talk to Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, about possible deals. The All-Star center is eligible to opt out of his current contract in July 2012.
Orlando GM Otis Smith has said he’ll explore options that are in the team’s best interests, and the Bulls theoretically could be a trade possibility given their depth, assuming they were assured Howard would stay with them.
“It’s our job to be in touch with all 29 teams around the league — and we have been in the last week — and to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the market and keep a pulse on what’s going on as far as trade possibilities,” Forman said. “But I wouldn’t mention individual names or share our business or who we’re talking with as far as players are concerned. We’re having conversations throughout the league.”
Forman said they’re also talking with Rose’s agents about what is expected to be a maximum five-year extension and hope to get it done soon. That appears little more than a formality.
“Derrick is the centerpiece of what we’re trying to put together here,” he said. “Obviously, we want Derrick to be a Chicago Bull for a long, long time. To us, obviously it’s very important that we put the right pieces around Derrick.”
Rose said he would “sign quick” if it were up to him.
“I know I’m not worried about that right now,” he said. “I know that when the time comes, I’ll sign.”
With Rose leading the way, Chicago reached the Eastern Conference finals before losing to Miami.
Now, they’re looking for more.
They have the league’s youngest MVP in Rose, a deep roster and reigning NBA Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau. And forward Carlos Boozer thinks the current crop of free agents value what the Bulls have to offer.
“It think it’s high on the list,” said Boozer, who signed with the Bulls before last season. “I think for the guys that want to win, they see what we are as a group of guys and they would like to be a part of it. I think most of the free agents, they probably have us on their list to come to.”
Hamilton appears poised to join them.
It’s no secret the Bulls are looking for a big guard who can score and bolster their defense, and the three-time All-Star fits that description.
Luol Deng believes he would also be a good fit in the locker room, too. He’s known Hamilton since he was 14 and his brother was playing at Connecticut.
“I used to go up to UConn, I used to work out with those guys,” Deng said. “One thing I can say about Rip is all his teammates like him. If Rip wants to come here, he’d be a great guy in the locker room. I think he’d be a great teammate. The guys from Detroit, they love playing with him, and he’s a guy that won the championship. He’s been there, he knows what it takes, and I’m sure if he was to join us, he would make us better.”
NOTES: Forman said the Bulls still haven’t made a decision on G Keith Bogans’ $1.73 million option for this season. They pulled him out of practice as training camp started on Friday. … The GM also said he wanted to bring back Kurt Thomas, who signed with Portland on Sunday, and offered him a contract. “He was a big part of what we did a year ago,” Forman said.
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