A month ago, speaking with Sean Highkin of The Athletic about the Bulls on the PBT Podcast, this topic came up: With the lack of direction this Bulls franchise is showing, are the jobs of vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman in any danger? No was the answer. For the Reinsdorf family that owns the Bulls, loyalty matters and that will win the day.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune talked to people inside the Bulls and got the same answer — the Gar/Pax front office is going nowhere.
Despite some outside perception to the contrary, the jobs of executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are safe, sources familiar with ownership’s thinking told the Tribune. In fact, ownership’s trust in Paxson and Forman remains so intact that they would be retained even if the Bulls miss the postseason for a second straight season, one source said.
It’s well-documented that Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and son Michael, who runs the business side as president and chief operating officer, are loyal and long have favored front-office continuity. But there’s also inherent trust in the roster-building process that Paxson, Forman and their staff have in place.
One internal belief is that this represents the first season in the attempt to open a new championship window after the franchise had ridden out Derrick Rose‘s maximum contract — and myriad injuries — until finally trading Rose with one season left on the deal. There’s also an internal feeling that Forman’s publicly stated goal to remain competitive while overhauling the roster over several seasons to get younger and more athletic is working.
Some Bulls fans are not going to like this, but first off it’s the Reinsdorf’s team and their call, and second they are not wrong about a need for front office continuity. There is no surprise in this report.
If I were a Bulls fan, what would worry me from this story is the idea that ownership believes the process to overhaul the roster and get younger while not tearing down to rebuild is working.
This .500 team is being carried by at-his-peak 27-year-old Jimmy Butler, and 35-year-old Dwyane Wade. After that, which young players do you see on this roster drafted/assembled by Forman and Paxson that you would want to keep as part of this great future? Nikola Mirotic? Bobby Portis? Jerian Grant? Denzel Valentine? They drafted Tony Snell, but moved him for Michael Carter-Williams, who is not a significant part of the future either. Doug McDermott isn’t long-term answer, and Gar/Pax traded two first round picks to get him, picks that both became better players in Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris.
Maybe there is something with big man Cristiano Felicio as a part of a future rotation, same with Paul Zipser. But neither of those picks are game changers.
And that’s not even bringing up the Rajon Rondo signing.
Bottom line here, the Bulls are one of the least athletic rosters in the NBA and the last pick they nailed was Butler back in 2011.
The Bulls are a .500 team, and while we’ve heard their “rebuild on the fly around Butler” plans, it’s difficult to see that being executed.