As the weeks of the regular season continue to fly by, rumors regarding a possible front office overhaul persist. Because while there are problems that run deeper than the executives (namely, the stymied development of the Bulls core players), the Gar Forman-John Paxson regime continues to draw ire as this team’s truest obstacle.
Here’s the latest …
- The Athletic’s Sham Charania hopped on 670 The Score this morning to discuss the current front office rumblings. During the interview, he mentioned that within league circles, the Bulls’ shortcomings aren’t perceived to be the fault of personnel: “Around the league when you talk to other coaches, executives, industry sources, you get the sense that this may not be a full roster issue.”
- Hm … I wonder why he’d say that? That wasn’t rhetorical. Here are three (of many) recent reasons why …
- Example 1: The Bulls head coach was booed last night for calling yet another late-game “developmental” time out:
- Example 2: The Bulls second-best center was available to play, but the Bulls (Jim Boylen) basically said: “Nah, I didn’t feel like it.”
- Example 3: The Bulls best player – Zach LaVine – laughed about the infamous “leadership committee” on the JJ Redick podcast, saying: “There are a lot of things we have where I say ‘I just work here.'”
- As for Charania, his examples included the odd fit for Thaddeus Young and the poor usage of Lauri Markkanen. In other words, several of the issues we’ve lamented frequently this season as ultimate misevaluations for this coaching staff and front office.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that this organization may not be the most respected behind NBA closed doors. After all, as The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg wisely pointed out recently, Paxson has run this team for 17 years and has only one conference championship appearance to show for it. Not to mention, the Bulls have made it past the first round just four times.
Running a below-average NBA team in one of the biggest markets in the country likely isn’t going to garner you much praise. However, as we’ve learned time and time again, it doesn’t matter what other people think – it just matters what the Reinsdorfs think. There’s no denying Paxson and the Reinsdorfs share a close bond, and after over two decades together, it makes sense. But the outside pressure might finally be getting to this ownership group, and the rumors about Paxson moving on from the basketball operations side of things has grown more popular than ever.
- Over the weekend, The Daily Herald’s Mike McGraw reported that team sources believe Paxson will take on an advisory role this offseason. And while I know that isn’t exactly what people want to hear, it could mean some substantial change is coming (if that new leadership DOESN’T report to Paxson, of course). If the Bulls do go that route though, it opens up a whole other can of worms. A good one, but a complicated one.
- Mike McGraw went on 670 The Score to elaborate on his weekend report, and here’s one nerve-wracking thing he had to say:
“Two guys have been making the decision for a long time … they both kind of have favorite-son status with the ownership. There haven’t been a lot of other people coming in from other organizations to come work for the Bulls. Jerry Reinsdorf has been in Arizona, he focuses a lot on baseball, who is he going to turn to on advice on what he should do, that’s a question. Michael Reinsdorf’s been focused on the business side. Does he have connections around the league? Does he have a good idea of what he wants to do? I’m not sure they do. I think they’re trying to figure out how to go about this.”
- Oh, yeah. Crap. That could be a problem.
Even if the Bulls move into a new direction (which, regardless, YAY), none of us can bank on a great hire without some sort of external assistance (which isn’t unheard of). In fact, there were even rumors of advisors coming in to help steer the Reinsdorfs in the right direction, since David Kaplan brought it all up on his ESPN 1000 show back in early January. It’s great to hear, but it’s not like we’re any closer to finding out whom they plan to bring in and when.
One of the many problems with having the same man at the helm of your team for nearly two decades is that new relationships aren’t forged. This organization has essentially boarded up the United Center doors and windows, rarely letting new faces into the fold. Other problems include late or dated reactions to innovation, a general lack of new ideas (overall staleness), and the sort of unified vision that, even if well-intentioned, is more susceptible to total failure without proper mitigation or pushback. Simply put: *every* organization needs new voices every now and then. It’s crucial.
The good news, if you’re willing to stretch, is that the Bulls have a good opportunity to start speed-dating those relationships this weekend during the All-Star events. Some of the NBA’s best and brightest will fill the city, so while the Reinsdorfs might still be “figuring it out,” they’d be wise to take advantage of this rare opportunity to kick things into the next gear.
At the end of the day, a big-market job to “fix” the Chicago Bulls should be appealing to various bright minds in basketball, but finding a stellar candidate pool might not be as easy as we’d like to think. So I guess it’s time to start building those connections, Jerry. Better late than never.