Cap flexibility. That and bringing back Fred Hoiberg. And Rajon Rondo.
Those were the big themes theme when Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman spoke to the media on Wednesday. The Bulls were 41-41, which is about what should have been expected from a roster that lacked shooting, but that felt like a disappointment in Chicago. This was a team that floundered around without an identity, and Paxson owned up to it, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com reported.
Often a lack of identity is blamed on the coach, but Fred Hoiberg will be back.
A lot of that identity issue should fall on Paxson and Forman, who gave Hoiberg a roster that didn’t fit the style he prefers to coach or match up with team star Jimmy Butler.
Also returning, Rajon Rondo (the Bulls have a team option).
But running this roster back, does that make sense? When asked about getting another star player to pair with Butler — and no, Dwyane Wade is not the answer there (he has a player option and $23 million reasons to pick it up) — the Bulls front office talked about cap flexibility.
So does that mean the Bulls will trade Butler? You’d have to read between the lines on that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tried.
There are a lot of questions the Bulls need to answer. Offering Jimmy Butler the same kind of designated player contract extension that Russell Westbrook is going to get something the Bulls want to do, because it would hurt that cap flexibility? If the Celtics land a top two pick (they have the right to swap with Brooklyn this year, the team with the best odds in the lottery) and offered it for Butler, could that be the basis of a deal that got done? (Would the Celtics do that is another question.)
What the Bulls need is a plan. They have talked about cap flexibility and the kind of team they want to build before, then they go out and pay big for Wade and Rondo and short-circuit all of it. GarPax hasn’t stuck to a plan. We’ll see if they have one this summer, what it is, and if they stick to it. But with the Bulls, it always feels like just about anything could happen.