Storyline: Bulls Front Office

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2 months ago via ESPN

Thibodeau wanted to maintain the ability to run his program the way he saw fit. Forman and Paxson wanted to have more say, specifically with regard to how many minutes star players such as Noah and Rose were playing in games. One of the things that irked Forman and Paxson most, sources say, was that they didn’t feel they got enough credit for providing Thibodeau with rosters full of professional players. “There was definitely a disconnect between the coaches and management,” Noah says now. “It was a little bit of a mess. And to be a championship team, everybody has to be on the same page. It was definitely a missed opportunity.”

“I met in Treviso, Italy, the head of international scouting Ivica Dukan, who is the man who took Tony Kukoc to Chicago. His opinion has a real value within the Bulls organization. He is practically the no3 decision maker on the team. We talked and he said to me that Milos was the best player they could get. After a few days the GM, Gar Forman, called me. We had agreed to a contract close to $ 30 million for three years, similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic signed in Sacramento. My only objection was that I wanted Milos to have the chance to opt out every summer because I believe that he can all-star money. We were ready to sign and Forman wanted the deal for one more reason. There are many Serbs in Chicago”.

While the Bulls haven’t spoken with Wade directly, Paxson did say general manager Gar Forman has had dialogue with Wade’s representatives in recent weeks. Bulls training camp begins Monday with Media Day activities. “Some dialogue is going on,” Paxson said on The Score. “We understand where (Wade) is at this time of his career. We’re more than willing to work with him. But as I said when we had the press conference to introduce the new players after the draft, we have to always do what’s in our best interest. So there has to be something that is mutually agreed upon. It can’t be something the player wins because that’s what he wants.

One of the most respected figures in all of basketball, Collins returns to the Bulls with more than 40 years of experience in the NBA. In this capacity, he will serve as an expert resource for the front office and coaching staff. “Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior advisor’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” said Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls.”

Bulls shopping Jimmy Butler

The Bulls routinely say they’ll take phone calls from teams about Butler’s availability around this time and at the trade deadline but this time around, multiple sources tell CSNChicago.com the Bulls are doing more than listening: they’re shopping Butler to many teams. It appears the Bulls have made the decision to try to jumpstart their rebuilding process and see what the best offer is for Butler as opposed to just gauging his value.

In that meeting, the Bulls were up front about the likelihood that they will stay the course as opposed to looking at the landscape of the East and making significant changes to the personnel, sources close to Wade tell CSNChicago.com. The Bulls gave the same speech to Butler in their last meeting when Butler came back to Chicago over a week ago, although one wonders if they’ll entertain trade discussions surrounding Butler next week with the draft approaching.

The meeting, which was described as positive and came on the heels of a similar meeting with Butler earlier last week, covered a wide variety of topics, including the possibilities for next year’s team, one source said. Wade has until June 27 to officially decide on his $23.8 million player option to return to the Bulls next season. The Bulls haven’t pressed Wade on his decision out of respect for the process. But the franchise has been preparing for Wade to opt in all along, and most league observers believe Wade will return.

Krause believed in Chandler before a lot of folks. At the 2001 NBA draft, he traded Elton Brand to the Clippers for Chandler and forward Brian Skinner. Even though Chandler had been the No. 2 overall pick, the move wasn’t universally accepted. At the time, Chandler was just out of high school, while Brand was a budding star, the 2000 Rookie of the Year. “He made a huge leap, (took) a risk,” Chandler said. “Elton was Rookie of the Year and so you’re trading away something that was guaranteed, something you can see. He was a polished 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) and you saw him at Duke. With Elton, you knew what you were getting and he traded him for a young, skinny high school kid. I definitely respect him and appreciate his vision, everything he did to get me into the Bulls organization and to trust me at the No. 2 (draft) position.”

Krause always called himself a scout at heart, and his success as a talent evaluator in two sports over such a long career spoke as much to his work ethic as his skill and love for his craft. “He had a real ability to see how people ticked,” said Bill Cartwright, the starting center on the first three Bulls title teams whom Krause later hired as head coach. “He knew exactly what he was looking for in players and personalities to fit a role on that particular team. “What kind of person you were, how tough you were, played a lot into what he thought of you. If he believed you were a good person, he had your back. Character really mattered to him.”

When asked if he felt the front office wanted him to return next season, thus picking up his option worth almost $24 million, Wade was noncommittal. “I don’t know,” Wade said. “I haven’t had that conversation about next season with the guys. I think we all understood when I came here I signed a two-year deal with a one-year [player] option. And both sides wanted it that way. And when that time came, no matter what the season or what teammates I had, it was going to be my option. I take my option seriously and I always look into what’s the best thing for me to do.

As Dwyane Wade watches the Bulls’ front office try and figure out the direction it wants to go for the future, the 35-year-old says he just wants to focus on what he can control and leave the personnel decisions to the executives. “I just want to play basketball,” Wade said before Friday’s overtime 128-121 win over the Phoenix Suns, his first in two weeks after sitting out two games because of a bruised wrist and a third because of an illness and the injury. “And do my best job as a player that I can do. Then from there, let them look at me and my talent and what I did and let me look where the team’s at and on what I did this season and go from there.”

Sources have indicated that privately Butler differs from that opinion. But he was willing to dance the dance with his boss on Friday. “No, I don’t,’’ Butler said, when asked if he took those comments of simply being a piece to build with personally. “No organization is the same. Everybody operates differently. Everybody has different personnel. I don’t care if anybody wants to build around me. Just win. At the end of the day, when you win, everything is fine whether you’re built around or not built around. Everybody’s happy. All of that is just background noise. I just want to win at all costs.’’

Hamilton told a story on NBA Crossover (in the video above) about a Bulls film session in 2011-2012, the first of his two seasons with the team. “One of the coaches, assistant coaches, spits out, ‘Randy has nothing to do with this team, he doesn’t need to be around the players.’ Looked at every man that was in that film session and pretty much told them, ‘Hey, don’t listen to him. When he comes and talks to you, don’t listen to him.’ And for me, as a veteran guy just coming from Detroit, I was like, ‘What is going on around here?’ Because every conversation I had with Randy was always good, was always love. So it’s kind of like a situation where, like, man, I don’t know what’s going on between management and the coaches. And now, as you see, it’s coming out again.”

He also addressed the team’s biggest need directly. “The area we really do need to improve is with our athleticism,” Paxson said. “That’s been evident this year. We’ve got some vets who know how to play and can score. But when you look around the league and the way the game is now, that’s an area we have to address. That is a part of the plan. We’ll try to do that obviously through the draft and free agency if we can. You always have the trade option. Right now, our roster is what it is.”

Thibodeau swears he didn’t need the dual roles, though given the public friction between Thibodeau and Bulls management during his tenure in Chicago from 2010-15, it’s understandable that he might want it. “It wasn’t an absolute,” Thibodeau told The Vertical. “The biggest thing for me was alignment. Not that you have to agree on everything. When you put competitive people together, there are going to be disagreements. But once a decision is made, you have to be aligned. There has to be a belief system. [Boston’s] Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers, who coached the Celtics from 2004-13], they were very much together. Danny was very inclusive. Danny talked to me every day. I learned a lot from that. And I have that here.”

But Butler’s emboldened state after landing a max contract led to several disruptive moments throughout the season, in film sessions and on the practice floor, sources said. That they continued sometimes unchecked throughout the season didn’t bode well for team chemistry, which started to fray in Thibodeau’s last season. In fact, that reason is why there’s optimism for Hoiberg’s future. Even management now believes this core was held together one season too long, that any coach would’ve struggled to overcome this tired team’s tendency to give in to adversity.

Hoiberg is viewed as his hire, though it was signed off on unanimously. Forman prevailed in the internal debate over whether to try to finalize a Pau Gasol-to-the-Kings trade deadline deal, though there was sentiment that with Mike Dunleavy just back the team could make a run as well as not loving the return from the Kings. Forman then publicly doubled down on re-signing Gasol, calling him part of the core. That stance has softened with Noah a priority, sources said, and Gasol also will entertain free-agency options.
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December 13, 2017 | 9:13 pm EST Update