WE GOT ONE!
The Bulls threw a line out to sea during All-Star Weekend, and talks about a possible front-office shake-up have since increased. From the start, none of us were quite sure what they were hoping to catch, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago just gave us a better idea.
Johnson reports the Bulls are expressing early interest in Pacers General Manager Chad Buchanan.
Here’s what he wrote:
And while a team source insisted the process is in the early stages, multiple league sources indicated one name is gaining momentum—Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan.
The name might not be the most exciting, but Buchanan, 46, could certainly be considered a well-respected mind in NBA circles. In the past, he worked with the Trail Blazers and Hornets as an Assistant General Manager before taking over the big seat in Indiana before the 2017 season.
According to the IndyStar’s story at the time of Buchanan’s hiring, he has always been one to support analytics as a strong mechanism for drafting and developing players. Considering the Bulls’ (1) outdated front office approach and (2) reported plans to greatly enhance their scouting department, Buchanan makes sense as a possible candidate.
Buchanan knows talent. No joke – on his first day with the Indiana Pacers in 2017, he helped orchestra the trade that sent Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in return for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. At the time, the trade received some criticism. Now? The Pacers are running with two All-Stars. Add to that the recent signing of Malcolm Brogdon and the trade for TJ Warren, and in just a couple of short seasons, Buchanan has left his mark on the Pacers organization.
And prior to his time in Indy, Buchanan was a long-standing Director of College Scouting with the Trail Blazers. Not only was his work impressive enough to move him up the ranks and even into an interim GM position in 2011-12, but Buchanan is clearly an experienced mind when it comes to seeking-out worthwhile talent in the NBA Draft. During his time as interim general manager, Buchanan made the trade that eventually allowed for the Blazers to draft Damian Lillard. Shifting back to his more recent success, and he’s managed to help build a Pacers team that has won 48 games over the past two seasons and sits comfortably in the middle of the playoff picture this season.
If you’re interested in learning more about this possible Bulls candidate, I highly recommend giving Alex Kennedy’s piece for HoopsHype a read, as this (and more) is discussed.
I have to admit Buchanan seems to have his fair share of “culture” talk, but it comes off far more reasonable and constructive than what we’ve grown accustomed to with the Bulls. Not to mention, his culture is backed up with some actual success and results.
Also, while the Bulls might be a big-market team, they don’t necessarily have the payroll of one right now. Buchanan has proven he can make the money work in his favor during his time with the Pacers, and he commented on that skill set in Kennedy’s piece:
“You don’t have as much of a buffer for making mistakes in a small market. If your budget is not the same as the Lakers or Knicks, one really bad contract on your books can just sink you. We have to be very conscious of signing the right guy who fits in with our culture. If a player doesn’t perform well, but he is a good person and doesn’t disrupt the team? Hey, I can live with that. If we overpay a guy who ends up disrupting our culture, that’s a killer for us. We have to be really smart.”
Working “really smart” isn’t something the Bulls know a whole lot about.
The name might not be the flashiest, but it makes sense the Bulls are probably hearing a lot about him as they ask for advice around the league. At the end of the day, a lot of what Buchanan seems to stand for is what this Chicago team is pretending to be. Right off the bat, the fit makes some sense.
My main concern though (and it’s a large one) is that Buchanan is used to working very closely with Pacers’ President of Basketball Operation Kevin Pritchard. We have to wonder, are the Bulls hoping Buchanan can do the same thing in Chicago alongside John Paxson? Do they want someone who is familiar with reporting to another, higher executive?
Johnson hints at that reasoning in his initial report:
If the Bulls ask for and receive permission to interview Buchanan, his longstanding working relationship with Pritchard would seemingly indicate an ability to mesh with Bulls executive vice president John Paxson.
If that’s the case, the Bulls are going about this all wrong. As we’ve said time and time again, complete autonomy is necessary for any real change in this front office, and this organization can’t try to work around that.