Gar Forman

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).

John Paxson’s Role May Expand In Chicago

The Bulls are considering front office changes this offseason, which may include more day-to-day control of the team for vice president John Paxson, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

That ties into a story from K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, who suggests that “subtle” front office changes are in the works. Organizational meetings are planned for this week, and management may hold a press conference to announce the moves as soon as tomorrow.

Johnson notes that the Tribune reported in February that Paxson and GM Gar Forman were safe in their jobs even if the Bulls missed the playoffs. Chicago rallied to claim the eighth seed, then took a 2-0 lead over the Celtics before being eliminated in six games.
Forman has promised that coach Fred Hoiberg will return in the fall to begin his third season, even though he has become the target of fan wrath. The crowd at Game 6 was loudly chanting “Fire Hoiberg” as the final minutes ticked away.

Behind the scenes, the Reinsdorf family still has faith in its management team, but team president Michael Reinsdorf is an advocate for more debate on key decisions. Paxson’s brother, Jim, a former GM of the Cavaliers, is someone who could be given a stronger voice in the organization.

Bulls Notes: Butler, Rondo, Payne

As the dust settles on Chicago’s elimination from the NBA postseason, the topic of conversation shifts from their impressive early series performance against the Celtics to what they’ll do in the offseason. Jimmy Butler, for what it’s worth, tells Nick Friedell of ESPN that he’d like to remain with the Bulls.

Butler is well aware of the fact that he’ll be featured heavily in trade rumors this offseason but went so far as to say that he hoped the Bulls front office would retain potential free agent Rajon Rondo. The Bulls have a player option on the second year of the veteran guard’s contract.

He’s been huge for us this year,” Butler said. “[…] But I don’t know what the future holds for anybody. So I’ll sit back and wait on that time to come.

The 27-year-old swingman put up 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game for the Bulls despite the notoriously chaotic campaign and has said all the right things when it comes to his future in Chicago.

Whether the Bulls front office decides to keep the core that looked so promising in Games 1 and 2 of their first-round series together for another crack at Eastern Conference success in 2017/18, however, remains to be seen.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • It was a frustrating season for Bulls fans, one they can blame on executives Gar Forman and John Paxon. ESPN’s Nick Friedell recently wrote about how the front office hasn’t exactly stuck to the message they initially broadcast to fans about a pending rebuild.
  • Count The Vertical’s Shams Charania among those looking to make sense of the Bulls’ options heading forward. Much of what unfolds could depend on Dwyane Wade‘s player option, which at this point remains up in the air. Per Charania, Wade and Jimmy Butler will eventually discuss the decision “face-to-face”.
  • A series of ESPN Insider panelists recently discussed the looming decisions that the Bulls will have to make. Despite a dramatic 2016/17, the consensus believes we’ll see a similar roster in 2017/18 once the front office picks up Rajon Rondo’s option and Dwyane Wade takes his.
  • The Bulls still need a point guard for their future, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. “It’s tough. We’re asking guys to play roles they haven’t played all year,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said of asking players like Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Canaan and even Paul Zipser to bring up the ball in their elimination game Friday.
  • The carousal of point guards that the Bulls trotted out this season didn’t impress Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman. The Thunder columnist wrote about how Cameron Payne – the supposed primary factor in the Taj Gibson deal – was Chicago’s fifth-string point guard.

Bulls To Hold Post-Playoff Meeting With Butler

The Bulls plan to meet with Jimmy Butler after the playoffs to express their support for keeping him, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

The session will be separate from routine exit interviews, and Cowley describes it as an attempt to repair a deteriorating relationship. John Paxson, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, will attend the meeting, but it’s uncertain if GM Gar Forman will be there.

Butler was reportedly angered after hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors around the deadline and last year’s draft. He received a $95MM contract extension two years ago, but never felt like the team really committed to him.

 He was also upset when Paxson said in a press conference after the trade deadline, “You build with players. We are building with Jimmy right now.’’ Butler became determined to lead the Bulls to the playoffs and show the front office that he was the type of player to build around, not just with.

A source told Cowley that Butler has communicated to the front office and to teammates that he wants to stay in Chicago. He is expected to repeat that sentiment in the upcoming meeting, with a warning that the Bulls should stop leaking his name in trade rumors if they really want to keep him.

Butler is signed for two more seasons with a $19.84MM player option in 2019/20.

Bulls Notes: Valentine, Payne, Wade

The Bulls didn’t end up shipping off Jimmy Butler at the deadline, as had been rumored, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t thinking about their future. General manager Gar Forman spoke with ESPN Chicago Friday about the organization heading forward. Forman noted that the trade the club did make (Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne), will free up more time for rookie Denzel Valentine.

In the same conversation Forman reveals that they tried to trade for Payne on draft night last June but were unable to. He mentions that they “absolutely loved” him coming out of the draft and think he’ll be a player for their future.

Later in the discussion, when the topic turned to Fred Hoiberg, Forman said that he foresees the head coach coming back to in 2017/18. For more insights about the Bulls, consider listening to the full 20-minute chat at ESPN.

There’s more out of Chicago:

  • Veteran guard Dwyane Wade doesn’t have a clear read on whether or not the Bulls’ front office would want him to pick up his player option this summer and return to the team for 2017/18. “I haven’t had that conversation about next season with the guys,” he told Nick Friedell of ESPN. “[…] I take my option seriously and I always look into what’s the best thing for me to do.” For now, Wade adds, he just wants to play basketball.
  • The Bulls will have a better idea of what shape their rebuild will take this offseason, writes Neil Johnson of ESPN Analytics (Insider). Johnson asks if the Bulls can truly rebuild around Jimmy Butler or whether,  by retaining him, they’re delaying the inevitable.
  • For what it’s worth, Jimmy Butler told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that he has faith in the Bulls’ front office and is exactly where he wants to be.
  • Newly acquired guard Anthony Morrow caused a bit of a stir when it was announced that he’d wear No. 1 with his new club. The veteran quickly changed course when Bulls fans protested at the thought of him wearing Derrick Rose‘s former number.

Bulls Leaning Toward Keeping Jimmy Butler

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, there is a growing feeling around Jimmy Butler‘s camp that the three-time All-Star won’t be moved at this year’s deadline. Sources told Cowley that while the Bulls have taken multiple inquiries on Butler, they haven’t been pursuing trade talks.

Cowley observed that Butler trusts GM Gar Forman enough to believe he won’t be traded. The Celtics have consistently been connected with Butler in trade rumors- Isaiah Thomas cooed over Butler’s skill-set during the All-Star break- but the Bulls’ front office is hesitant to forfeit their chances at a playoff run.

The Bulls currently occupy the seven seed in the Eastern Conference with a 28-29 record. As Cowley points out, entering sell-mode this season would eliminate any chance of retaining Dwyane Wade over the offseason.

While the Bulls are unlikely to deal their most prized asset, other rotation pieces- Rajon Rondo, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson– could still be on the move. Earlier this month, Doug McDermott and Robin Lopez were mentioned in trade talks as well.

Bulls Expected To Retain John Paxson, Gar Forman

The Bulls’ front office has received some criticism for its roster construction, but the men in charge of assembling the squad aren’t in danger of losing their jobs, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Sources familiar with ownership’s thinking tell Johnson that executive VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman are safe, and that’s expected to continue even if Chicago misses the playoffs this spring.

Last summer, the Bulls added veteran free agents Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade to their roster after trading Derrick Rose, creating a questionable mix of backcourt players who aren’t three-point threats. The moves have produced mixed results for the Bulls, who are currently in the No. 7 spot in the East with a 26-26 record. Chicago has looked good at times, but has suffered its share of bad losses, and recently saw three of the club’s marquee players publicly criticize teammates — Wade and Jimmy Butler were critical of the Bulls’ young players, prompting Rondo to fire back at the duo.

Despite the Bulls’ problems, Jerry and Michael Reisendorf remain loyal to the current management group, and continue to hold the team’s talent evaluation in “high regard,” a source tells Johnson. According to Johnson, there’s also an internal feeling that this season represents the start of a new era for the franchise, following the Rose trade — team ownership wants to give the front office a chance to reshape the roster over multiple seasons.

With only about $46MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2017/18, the Bulls should have the opportunity to make some major moves in the offseason, particularly if Wade turns down his player option. For now, it seems as though Paxson and Forman will once again be in charge of those roster decisions.

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