After 42 minutes of talking with the media on Wednesday , VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman didn’t say much out of the ordinary. The big takeaway, everything looks to remain the same.
The biggest report coming into Wednesday’s press conference was Marc Stein saying that John Paxson could be taking more of the “day to day control,” something he owned before Forman showed up in 2010. That rumor was quickly denied, as Paxson saying “the hierarchy remains the same.”
There were a lot of questions with not a lot of clear answers given Wednesday. But a few things were made clear, to fans liking or not.
Rajon Rondo will likely be back next season. Paxson was quick to back Rondo’s role with the younger players and his role on and off the court.
Rondo, who holds a team option for next season, proved how valuable he was for the Bulls in the playoffs. After winning two games with him, his absence hurt the Bulls, leading to four straight losses to the Celtics. “Playoff Rondo” was a player we did not see all regular season. So why bring him back? Sure the young players love him but are you going to get the effort out if him every night? No.
At the All-star break, a lot of fans wanted him gone. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg benched him after an altercation with an assistant coach. Rondo has proven to be a problem when dealing with authority. But, Paxson and Forman believe he is a valuable piece and brings the “veterans leadership” that is needed for the young players.
The chance of dealing Jimmy Butler is not off the table. John Paxson did a majority of the talking on Wednesday. He directed more of the personal questions to Forman but he voiced himself throughout the whole press conference. “Jimmy is far and away our best player. We will sit down with him in the next few weeks and talk about the future.”
Jimmy Butler is the only thing the Bulls have going for them. The Bulls have their superstar yet did not say we are not going to trade him this offseason. ” All options are always on the table,” Paxson said.
Butler had always voiced his love for Chicago and wants to continue to play for the Bulls. But the Bulls are in a crossroads. There are not any other players on the roster that have the value to get a big return in a trade and start a path toward winning a championship. Is Robin Lopez worth a first-round pick? He’s a solid center but I would not give up a first rounder for him. There are no other proven guys on the roster that the Bulls can get value for.
Paxson and Forman did not speak of “total rebuild” on Wednesday, but more of “sticking the course.” And while the option is out there, the Bulls would have to be totally blown away by an offer to trade Butler.
Forman expressed his desire to retain Nikola Mirotic. “We value Niko and he has made it clear he wants to stay in Chicago. We certainly hope Niko will be back with us.”
So unless Mirotic gets a big offer sheet from another team, he will be a Bull next season. Mirotic’s inconsistent play over the past few years has been the major reason of him in trade rumors coming the recent deadline. From poor shooting to no improvement on the defensive end, I do not know what the Bulls see in him. Paxson said Niko is still a young player and will continue to develop. What? He has had three years to develop and has not made major strides.
I have not seen a big improvement in Mirotic’s game since hitting the NBA scene in 2014. His overall defense is not good and his poor shooting percentage got him benched this season. Mirotic had a big month of March but that does not make up for the other months of inconsistent play. It would be best for the Bulls to let him go and let other like Portis and their lottery pick Denzel Valentine absorb a bigger role in the rotation.
Overall, it was basically the same rhetoric from Forman and Paxson. In the forty-two minutes they spoke, you could say that nothing is going to change. They want Rondo back, Forman would like to bring back Mirotic and Felicio, Hoiberg is their guy.
This is not a roster that will contend for a title. And Forman seemed to not like the idea of a rebuild because he mentioned the idea of “blowing it up,” you face the reality of “6-8-10 before they get back into the playoffs.” So you are just going to settle for first round losses every year?
There is still no clear path of this Bulls team going forward and with this front office, we may never get one.