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The Bernstein Brief: Bulls' Gar Forman Is Attempting Damage Control

By Dan Bernstein-- senior columnist

The addition of Denzel Valentine notwithstanding, the story Thursday night for the Bulls was their discussions on multiple fronts regarding a trade of All-Star wing Jimmy Butler.

Numerous reports from both national and local outlets described in-depth conversations throughout the evening regarding potential deals with the Celtics, Timberwolves and Magic to complete a full rebuild of the roster by moving Butler for varying combinations of draft picks and young players. In the aftermath of no move, general manager Gar Forman was left to play semantic games.

"We never made a single call," Forman said. "We're not looking to move Jimmy."

Except he was, for the right return. This isn't lying, technically, but it's also not really true.

"We like Jimmy Butler," Forman said. "We did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that's our job to listen to calls."

This depends on the definition of "shop," which in my world means gauging his value in the open marketplace and seeing if it would be advantageous to trade him. That's what the Bulls did all during the first part of draft night, and there's no reason to pretend they didn't.

Forman is clearly afraid of Butler feeling slighted or disrespected, and he knows having a key player with both a superstar self-image and a bruised ego is another challenge for a front office and coach already beset by legitimate criticism from former players and league observers.

Does Forman really think Butler can't read the same reports the rest of us did? More importantly, does Forman think Butler is likely to believe him?

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Boers and Bernstein Show" in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.


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