The recent performance of Cristiano Felicio offers more proof that the Bulls should have traded Pau Gasol before February’s deadline, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. The Brazilian rookie center had 16 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes in Saturday’s win over Cleveland, and coach Fred Hoiberg chose to use Felicio over Gasol late in the game. Friedell gives executives Gar Forman and John Paxson credit for finding Felicio, but contends it was foolish to keep Gasol as part of the future when he will turn 36 this summer and can become a free agent. Gasol has already expressed an intention to opt out, which means the Bulls may get nothing in return when they could have picked up assets and created playing time for Felicio and rookie Bobby Portis.
There’s more news out of Chicago:
- Forman worked hard to land Felicio, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. The Bulls GM had been watching him for several years as he moved to the United States and made a failed attempt to become eligible to play at Oregon. After Felicio returned to Brazil, Forman traveled there to scout him in several tournaments and signed him to the Bulls’ summer league team.
- There’s plenty of blame to go around for a failed season, contends K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago is almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007/08, and Johnson says the responsibility goes from the front office to the coaching staff to a mismatched roster. Forman has carried the most influence behind the scenes, according to Johnson, as he was the leading proponent of hiring Hoiberg and of passing on a chance to deal Gasol to the Kings. Johnson notes that the front office is now less enamored with Gasol, as re-signing center Joakim Noah has become a higher offseason priority. Forman also angered the locker room by trading popular veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta to cut the Bulls’ luxury tax payment by more than $2.5MM.
- Despite complaints about Hoiberg, the coaching staff is expected to remain mostly intact for next season, Johnson writes in the same story. Management believes the problem this year was that the core of the team was kept together too long. One possible change is assistant Randy Brown could return to a front-office position. Brown is liked by players, Johnson relays, and some view him as Forman’s direct link to the coaching staff.