This should be made perfectly clear before the article proceeds: I despise members of the Bulls’ front office who are responsible for decisions regarding personnel. I am not one to call for the heads of high-end members of any franchise, but John Paxson and especially Gar Forman need to be fired.
After recent events of the trade deadline in which the Bulls, despite swirling rumors involving players such as Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, and Pau Gasol, decided to deal veteran guard Kirk Hinrich to the Atlanta Hawks (again) for bum Justin Holiday and a second-round pick from the Utah Jazz. The move was basically made to shed Hinrich’s remaining $3 million salary — yet the Bulls still sit above the luxury tax threshold.
It’s fair to say Kirk Hinrich is a top-15 player in Bulls franchise history, and I would argue he’s top-12 — but only because I love his game so much. Its also fair to say that, even though his skills are not what they once were at age 35, he still adds value to any team.
Hinrich can match up well on the defensive end, he can run offensive sets like a traditional point guard and he can knock down an open jumper. He is the Bulls all-time leader in three-point field goals, of course. Plus, his intangibles as a leader in the locker room is something not every franchise in the NBA owns.
As a huge Kirk Hinrich fan — yeah, this stings. However, if the trade was made with any sense of purpose other than to just dump salary, it would be a much easier pill to swallow. But, with this front office, I really should not have expected anything less than this travesty. Hinrich spent 12 years as a Bull and this is how they treat him. Where’s the loyalty?
In other news, apparently the Bulls were never interested in shopping Pau Gasol, which makes zero sense. Also, Gar/Pax actually believe they can re-sign him this offseason, which — you guessed it — makes zero sense as well. Mark Schanowski of Comcast Sportsnet, who is a very intelligent basketball mind, provided the most accurate insight of that situation with one tweet.
If Bulls plan to use all of their cap space to re-sign Gasol, who turns 36 in July, they’re content to be mediocre. https://t.co/BICGzT9nYC
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) February 18, 2016
But in the land of delusion where big-time players come to the Bulls based on consecutive playoff appearances, Gar/Pax has the idea that their team is a legitimate contender. They continue spewing the two-to-three year window nonsense that’s been regurgitated since 2003, yet the Bulls haven’t made it past the Eastern Conference Finals since the 1997-’98 season. This team is not close to winning a title and trading Hinrich for scrap and hoping to re-sign Gasol puts them further away from the ultimate goal.
If that’s not bad enough, here is why Forman and Paxson need to get the hell out.
I don’t think being among half the teams to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons in a broken down Eastern Conference constitutes the Bulls as a prime destination for top talent. If that were the case, then LeBron James, Chris Bosh or Carmelo Anthony would be a part of this franchise by now. As a result, they are stuck with consolation second-tier guys like Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol, along with third-tier talents in Kyle Korver, Mike Dunleavy, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Watson and Rip Hamilton — who was acquired after the Bulls failed to land guys like JJ Reddick and Jamal Crawford.
Not only do they fail to reel in prime free agent targets, but they fail to capitalize on countless trade opportunities. Remember when Kobe Bryant wanted to play for the Bulls in 2007? What about the potential deal involving Amare Stoudemire in 2009 for Tyrus Thomas that never happened? Or even their chance at landing Kevin Love in 2014?
Speaking of transactions, the greatest trade acquisitions in the 13 year history of this halfhearted duo included John Salmons, Larry Hughes, Brad Miller and Drew Gooden. Are you kidding me? If you discount Justin Holiday, the Bulls are the only team in the NBA that does not have an acquired player through trade on its roster. That’s not right.
Their worst trade, which should be considered an all-timer, involved the 2006 second overall pick Lamarcus Aldridge going to Portland in exchange for Tyrus Thomas. Oh, and this whole dumping players for scrap thing that Forman and Paxson do is nothing new. Former victims include Kyle Korver, Kirk Hinrich twice and they traded Luol Deng in 2014 for nothing. What player would want to come and work for these guys?
It won’t be necessary to mention the tension the front office had with its head coaches prior to Tom Thibodeau, as both Scott Skiles and Vinny Del Negro each had their issues with management. I have a hunch the tension between Thibodeau and Gar/Pax goes a little beyond the topic of minutes restrictions. Thibs is a wonderful basketball mind, and for a guy like him to be on a totally different agenda as his bosses, then you know he felt the front office didn’t have a clue.
Fast forward to 2016 and they introduce another smart basketball guy in Fred Hoiberg to a group that was doomed to fail. Besides Jimmy Butler, a resurgent Derrick Rose as of late and two imperfect big-men in Taj and Pau, the 2016 Bulls roster is filled with flat out scrubs.
Bobby Portis has a bright future, but has much to learn. Doug McDermott might turn out to be OK, but right now its really hard to watch him play defense and attempt to contribute to this brutal offense. Niko Mirotich is lost and has no position. Tony Snell is flat out bad. E’Twaun Moore is now suddenly your starting two guard while Butler is out, which is not good. And then you have Cam Bairstow pretending like he’s played basketball before.
The Bulls once again showed their incompetence while the Cleveland Cavaliers were out making moves to almost solidify the top seed in the East and allow many to pencil them into the NBA Finals. Gar/Pax’s club may not even make the playoffs; that is how bad its gotten. Bulls currently hold the eighth and final playoff seed by one game.
This trade deadline was supposed to bring hope that this franchise could move forward, not sit still. All it did was solidify the fact Gar Forman and John Paxson should unequivocally be fired.