Gar Forman

Bulls Notes: Valentine, Hoiberg, Parker, Mirotic

Denzel Valentine has yet to appear in a game this season for the Bulls, and his 2018/19 debut isn’t imminent. As The Chicago Sun-Times relays (via Twitter), executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson indicated on Wednesday that Valentine’s left ankle isn’t responding well, prompting the team to pump the brakes on his rehab and rule him out indefinitely.

With Valentine still on the shelf, the team figures to continue relying on rookie Chandler Hutchison in a regular rotation role. Chicago also appears to qualify for the hardship provision, which allows an injury-ravaged team to add a 16th man to its 15-man roster when it’s missing at least four players. Valentine, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, and Lauri Markkanen are all in the midst of extended absences for the Bulls, but there has been no word on the team applying for or receiving that roster exception.

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • It looks like there’s a real possibility that the 2018/19 season could be Fred Hoiberg‘s last with the Bulls, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. If that happens, GM Gar Forman should follow Hoiberg out the door, Cowley argues.
  • Hoiberg had a heated discussion with Jabari Parker during Wednesday’s loss, according to Cowley, who notes that Parker jogged down the floor on back-to-back defensive possessions before Hoiberg called timeout and had words with him.
  • Bulls center Wendell Carter, a former Duke Blue Devil, raved about his alma mater’s 2018/19 roster, suggesting that he believes Zion Williamson will “translate perfectly” to the NBA, as Cowley details. However, Carter doesn’t want to see the Bulls go into tank mode to try to land one of those top Duke prospects in next year’s draft. “I feel like we’ve just got to try to win every game,” he said. “If we lose, but we’re playing hard, that’s one thing, but I wouldn’t feel good losing games on purpose.”
  • In yet another article for The Sun-Times, Cowley revisits Nikola Mirotic‘s time in Chicago, suggesting that the front office “couldn’t wait to deal him” and some of his teammates “weren’t exactly sad” that Bobby Portis punched him during a practice last fall. Hoiberg and Robin Lopez spoke highly of Mirotic, however.
  • Sam Smith of Bulls.com explores where things stand for two-way player Tyler Ulis, who finds himself on the Windy City Bulls after spending the last two seasons as an NBA rotation player.

Extension Roundup: Rozier, Portis, Jones, Russell

 Celtics point guard Terry Rozier turned down a rookie scale extension offer prior to Monday’s deadline and will become a restricted free agent next summer, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Boston offered Rozier approximately $12MM annually, according to Blakely, but chose to take his chances in free agency. Talks were cordial and the two parties will revisit each other when Rozier hits the market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
“I’m in a great situation,” Rozier told Blakely. “My team (representatives) felt it wasn’t good for me to sign an extension right now. It opens my options a little bit, but I’m focused on what’s happening right now.”
Rozier is expected to have multiple suitors even as a restricted free agent, since Kyrie Irving recently announced that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics next summer, Blakely notes. Rozier broke out last season, particularly after Irving went down with a knee injury. He was especially potent in the playoffs, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG.
We have more extension decisions:
  • The Timberwolves and point guard Tyus Jones did not reach a rookie scale extension agreement. Jones will be a restricted free agent, and that’s been the expectation all along, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Minnesota would have to make a $3,573,205 qualifying offer before free agency next summer, otherwise Jones would be unrestricted. Jones saw action in all 82 regular-season games last season, including 11 starts, and averaged 5.1 PPG and 2.8 APG in 17.9 MPG.
  • The Bulls and forward Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an extension agreement before Monday’s deadline, Wojnarowski tweets. Agent Mark Bartelstein and Chicago GM Gar Forman had lengthy negotiations as the deadline approached, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, but couldn’t close the financial gap. “We had very positive talks,” Bartelstein told Johnson. “These are hard extensions to get done.” (Twitter link). Portis will be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $3,611,813 qualifying offer. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 73 regular season games after returning from his eight-game team suspension following his well-publicized dust-up with former teammate Nikola Mirotic.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not receive extensions, Michael Scotto of The Athetic tweets. Neither player was aware of Monday’s deadline, according to Scotto, suggesting that the Nets never made a serious pitch to lock them up before free agency. The Nets would have extend a $9,160,706 qualifying offer to Russell to make him a restricted free agent. Hollis-Jefferson’s qualifying offer would be $3,594,369.

Central Notes: Forman, Ellenson, Evans, Kanter

Bulls GM Gar Forman has done a good job of acquiring young talent but the hard part is yet to come, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explains. Chicago will need to use its cap room and land at least one star player to become a major threat in the Eastern Conference, Cowley continues. Forman’s reputation around the league is shaky and he’s never been able to land such a player in his current position. That could eventually wreck this rebuilding project, Cowley concludes.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons power forward Henry Ellenson is entering a pivotal year in his career, Ansar Khan of MLive.com notes. Ellenson is expected to his minutes increase under new coach Dwane Casey and Ellenson has been working diligently to become a stronger defender and improve his ball-handling. However, the third-year big man out of Marquette struggled with his new shooting motion during summer league games, particularly from long range, and that’s disconcerting, Khan adds.
  • Free agent additions Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans, along with first-round pick Aaron Holiday, should facilitate the Pacers’ desire to increase their 3-point production, according to Greg Rappaport of Pacers.com. McDermott closed out last season in Dallas by making nearly 50% of his long-range attempts in the final 24 games, while Holiday posted solid 3-point percentages during his college career, Rappaport continues. Evans has improved his long-range shooting over the last three seasons and will be an upgrade over Lance Stephenson, Rappaport adds.
  • Knicks center Enes Kanter took a shot at the Bucks franchise and said he never considered joining them this summer, Royce Young of ESPN reports. Kanter posted a deer emoji on his Twitter account, then deleted it minutes later, the night before he decided to opt in and stay in New York. But Milwaukee was never on his radar. “I know I was not going to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the Milwaukee Bucks,” he told Young. “Unless they give you good, good money, then go, but you don’t leave New York for Milwaukee.”

Central Rumors: Frye, Parker, Sexton, Garnett

Channing Frye‘s impact on the locker room had a lot to do with the Cavaliers’ decision to bring back the veteran forward, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. GM Koby Altman wanted a respected veteran voice to guide the team through tough times with the departure of LeBron James, Pluto continues. Frye is very popular with his teammates and shares a close bond with the team’s remaining star, Kevin Love. Frye was traded to the Lakers last February by Cleveland solely to make the deal work financially and not because the front office had any issues with him, Pluto adds. Frye agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The team option on Jabari Parker‘s two-year contract gives the Bulls flexibility during free agency next summer, Kevin Anderson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. With a projected rise in the salary cap, the Bulls could free up enough cap space to sign a top-level free agent even if they decide to keep Parker. That could be accomplished by allowing Bobby Portis and Cameron Payne to become unrestricted free agents if they are not signed to extensions. If they decide to let Parker go next summer, they could have between $35MM-$53MM in cap space during free agency, Anderson adds.
  • Cavaliers lottery pick Collin Sexton was a volume scorer during summer-league competition but reinforced the notion that his long-range game needs work, as Andre Snellings of ESPN details. Sexton did most of his damage inside the arc and needs to develop a consistent 3-point shot, Snellings continues. The University of Alabama product also displayed his ability to create for his teammates but he still can become a better passer, Snellings adds.
  • The Pistons made arrangements to have Kevin Garnett work with two of their bigs, center Andre Drummond and power forward Henry Ellenson, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • GM Gar Forman’s promise two years ago to make the Bulls younger and more athletic is coming to fruition, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. By drafting Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the lottery, trading for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and signing Jabari Parker as a free agent, the average age of the projected lineup is 22, Walton points out. The team can now play at a quicker pace and cover more space defensively, Walton adds.

Bulls Notes: Lineup Changes, Payne, Forman

With 25 games left in their season, the Bulls are focusing on the future, as VP John Paxson explained to reporters on Tuesday (link via Sam Smith of Bulls.com). That means that Cristiano Felicio will move into the starting lineup on Thursday in place of veteran center Robin Lopez, while David Nwaba will supplant Justin Holiday.

“The hard part from our standpoint is you can’t play 12 guys. Nine or 10 is the most,” Paxson said. “We’re going to start looking at blocks of games where we’ll be having a few guys who haven’t been playing much or at all have a significant role. The whole goal in our position is to evaluate what we have on this roster.

“The hard thing when you do things like this is you’re asking certain people to sacrifice roles and minutes,” Paxson continued. “It’s veteran guys. That’s never an easy thing. As I told them, I, along with [GM] Gar [Forman], we’re entrusted with the future of the organization. So these last 25 games, we’re going to evaluate what we have on this roster by playing more the guys we haven’t seen much this year.”

Let’s round up a few more Bulls notes…

  • Cameron Payne, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, is set to make his 2017/18 debut on Thursday, writes Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times. Payne figures to cut into Jerian Grant‘s playing time.
  • With John Paxson once again addressing reporters on Tuesday, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times explores where Gar Forman has been “hiding” this season. According to Cowley, Paxson comes across as more “honest and transparent” than Forman, which is why the VP has handled most of the team’s media responsibilities this season. However, Forman is still very much involved in basketball operations and is by no means being pushed out of the organization.
  • Justin Holiday is trying to take his reduced role in stride, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “I have to deal with it, be professional about it,” Holiday said. “Regardless of the situation or the reason, I have to carry myself a certain way because that’s how I do things. How I react and carry myself in this will be a good leadership situation for the young guys to see and follow the example if it does happen to them.”
  • The $600K fine Mark Cuban received for publicly discussing the benefits of losing is exactly why Paxson and other members of the Bulls organization will dance around the subject of tanking, says Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago.

Bulls Owner Talks Front Office, Team, Rebuild

The Bulls hierarchy hasn’t always been clear with VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson and GM Gar Forman each taking on various responsibilities during their respective tenures. However, despite the unconventional approach, owner Jerry Reinsdorf is confident that the franchise has the right management in place.

“I picked Paxson to rebuild when [Jerry] Krause left [in 2003] because he’s a leader. Nothing has changed,” Reinsdorf tells K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “He’s a fine evaluator of talent. He’s a long-term thinker. He works well with the general manager. He works well with coaches. I’m a John Paxson fan.”

Paxson has traveled with the team all season in an attempt to create transparency and accountability while offering support to players and coaches. Forman has spent much of his time on the road, scouting prospects in search of future talent and taking on other traditional front office responsibilities.

“Forman is great with agents,” Reinsdorf said. “John hates to deal with agents. Gar is good at negotiating with the other general managers, but John was good at that too. Gar is great at cap knowledge and planning ahead. He’s an extremely detailed guy. That’s why we have the two jobs. And that’s a trend that teams are moving too. They realize you need two different skill sets.”

Forman served as the face of the front office during the Derrick Rose era, giving up that unofficial title to Paxson as the team went into a rebuild. Reinsdorf believes Forman has consistently done a great job, though Paxson is more of a media darling than the GM is.

“I think John plays well publicly, more than me or Gar,” the owner said. “People tend to like John. They trust him. He’s the guy next door. People look at Gar and me and we’re not warm and cuddly like John.”

Reinsdorf, who also owns the Chicago White Sox, will turn 82 years old in February and that begs the question: Why sign off on another rebuild?

“I figure I have at the most 15-20 years left and I’d like to win again,” Reinsdorf said. “I don’t like being caught in the middle.

“I think the rebuild is going great. We don’t want to be fooled by winning six games in a row. But we’re seeing our young players step up. We’re seeing [Nikola Mirotic] show what we thought we had in the first place. [Kris Dunn] is coming on. [Bobby Portis] is having a good year. And [Zach LaVine] hasn’t even played yet.

“I think Gar and John have put together the core of something good. Now it remains to be seen [if we] can take the next two steps, mediocrity and being good, without being stuck too long in mediocrity.”

Bulls Notes: Front Office, Wade, Mirotic, Portis

In an in-depth and well-researched piece for ESPN, Nick Friedell examines how the Bulls went from a title contender to one of the NBA’s worst teams within the last several years. Friedell’s report, which begins by revisiting Derrick Rose‘s first major injury back in 2012, provides plenty of interesting tidbits along the way, touching on the tension between Tom Thibodeau and the front office, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah, Dwyane Wade and his young teammates, and Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic.

As Friedell details, there has no been no shortage of issues in Chicago in recent years, with even the most successful seasons during that stretch including a few sour notes. For instance, sources tell Friedell that executives John Paxson and Gar Forman felt like they didn’t get enough credit for the roster they built during the Thibodeau years.

Friedell’s whole piece is worth a read, but here are a couple more details from it, along with more Bulls notes:

  • When the Bulls landed Wade last summer, Forman conveyed the impression that the front office had been planning its pursuit of Wade for weeks. In reality though, according to Friedell, the Bulls were “shocked” that they had an opportunity to pry Wade away from the Heat, and altered their rebuilding plans when it became clear they could sign him.
  • Via Freidell, here’s what Paxson had to say about the perception that the Bulls could have done better than the Timberwolves’ package in a Butler trade: “Teams would call us all the time and probe about Jimmy and that type of thing. But no one ever made us any type of legitimate offer. In fact, most teams, when they would make an offer, it was somewhat insulting. So we always listened, which teams do, but it really came down to, could we start to rebuild with some quality young players? And hope that knowing what our future holds, it’s going to be painful at times. But if we get into these next few drafts at a fairly significant level, the hope is that pairing what draft picks we have going forward and the players that we got in this deal, we can get back sooner rather than later.”
  • In a separate article for ESPN, Friedell notes that the fight between Portis and Mirotic denied the Bulls the opportunity to push an optimistic and hopeful narrative about the team’s rebuild to open the season.
  • Although Portis privately and publicly apologized for punching Mirotic, there are growing concerns that the relationship between the two players may be much more difficult to repair, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes. Mirotic hasn’t returned any of Portis’ calls or texts, says Cowley.

Bulls Notes: Wade, Hoiberg, Forman, Dunn

Dwyane Wade hasn’t contacted the Bulls’ front office about his desire for a buyout and is hoping the team makes the first move, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Wade made his feelings clear that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project after Chicago traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota in June. However, he is reluctant to give up much of the $23.8MM salary for the upcoming season that he opted into and apparently believes he can get a better deal if Bulls management takes the initiative on buyout talks.

A recent report said Wade hasn’t been in contact with anyone from the front office since the Butler deal and that he felt misled because he was given assurances that the Bulls would try to remain competitive before he opted in. At 35, Wade is by far the oldest and most expensive player on Chicago’s roster and he clearly doesn’t fit the team’s youth movement. How far each side is willing to continue before buyout talks begin will be among the most interesting storylines of the new season.

Cowley shares more information out of Chicago:

  • Expectations will be different for coach Fred Hoiberg with the revamped roster, but he still has to show progress to keep his job. Hoiberg has been under fire from fans and the media since coming to Chicago two years ago and was publicly criticized by Butler early in his first season. Cowley calls it “sink-or-swim time” for Hoiberg, who has to turn a young roster into the type of team he envisioned when he was hired.
  • GM Gar Forman’s fate is probably tied to Hoiberg’s, Cowley adds. Forman, who made the decision to bring Hoiberg out of the college ranks, is already unpopular with Bulls’ fans, some of whom paid to put up a billboard in July calling for the firing of him and president of basketball operations John Paxson.
  • Kris Dunn, part of the package acquired in exchange for Butler, has an open path toward being the starting point guard. The fifth pick of the 2016 draft, Dunn had a disappointing rookie season in Minnesota, but the Bulls have no obvious successor to Rajon Rondo.
  • The Bulls are happy with what they have seen from first-round pick Lauri Markkanen during summer league and EuroBasket. The seventh overall selection will be “a key foundation piece” of the rebuild.
  • Robin Lopez is the team’s most valuable trade commodity and seems likely to be moved during the season. The 29-year-old center averaged 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in his first season with the Bulls after being acquired in a deal with the Knicks.

Central Rumors: Shumpert, Korver, Bulls, Forman

While trade talks between the Cavaliers and Rockets involving Iman Shumpert appear to have lost momentum, Cleveland continues to try to find a landing spot for the swingman, indicating that there are other possible trade partners, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. According to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net, the Raptors, Timberwolves, Lakers, and Kings have expressed some level of interest in Shumpert, though it’s not clear how many of those clubs remain in pursuit.

As we wait to see if the Cavs can find a taker for Shumpert, let’s round up a few more Central notes and rumors…

  • The Cavaliers have made a contract offer to Kyle Korver, according to Vardon. The terms of that offer aren’t known.
  • After a Saturday report indicated that the Bulls have conveyed interest in Justin Holiday, Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link) hears from a source that Chicago is one of the teams that has made Holiday a contract offer. The Knicks haven’t formally put an offer on the table for Holiday, but the situation is fluid, says Berman.
  • The Bulls may end up re-shuffling their front office this offseason, a source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, GM Gar Forman could be the odd man out if the team restructures its management hierarchy, while John Paxson‘s brother Jim Paxson – the Bulls’ director of basketball operations – may take on more responsibilities.

Bulls Notes: Rondo, Hoiberg, Butler, Mirotic

Bulls executives John Paxson and Gar Forman spoke to the media in a Wednesday press conference that lasted the better part of an hour. Although Paxson and Forman didn’t exactly lay out their offseason blueprint, several of their answers provided hints about the Bulls’ next steps.

For one, Paxson praised Rajon Rondo and said there’s a “really good chance” that the team will retain the veteran point guard for next season, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As we outlined this morning in our Offseason Cap Digest for the Bulls, Rondo’s $13.397MM salary is currently only partially guaranteed for $3MM, so Chicago could save more than $10MM by cutting him — but likely won’t.

Here are more items of note from today’s presser, with all links via Friedell unless otherwise indicated:

  • Paxson reiterated today that Fred Hoiberg will return as the Bulls’ head coach next season (Twitter link).
  • Although Paxson acknowledged that Jimmy Butler doesn’t necessarily fit into Chicago’s desire to play with pace, he said the Bulls “know his value”and that Butler is “far and away our best player” (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune and Friedell).
  • The Bulls will sit down with Butler and Dwyane Wade – who has a player option – within the next few weeks to discuss their respective futures (Twitter links).
  • Both Paxson and Forman spoke about the importance of establishing more consistent roles for players next season, particularly for the Bulls’ young guys (Twitter links).
  • The Bulls value Nikola Mirotic, according to Forman, who made it clear that there’s mutual interest between the two sides in getting a new deal done for the RFA-to-be (Twitter links).
  • Asked about coaching staff changes, Paxson said the team is “in the process of looking at everything.” With Hoiberg a lock to return, any changes made would be to the assistant coaches (Twitter links via Johnson).
  • The Bulls want to add shooting and athleticism this summer, according to Paxson (Twitter link).
  • The Bulls continue to stress the idea of maintaining flexibility for 2018 and beyond. Paxson suggested that it would be “difficult” to make significant changes to the roster this summer, while Forman talked about the advantage of saving cap room rather than committing to multiple long-term deals right away (Twitter links via Friedell and Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com).