John Paxson believes there is a path out of the basement, and even beyond mediocrity for this roster. The Bulls vice president of basketball operations made that crystal clear last week in his end-of-the-season address with the media at the Advocate Center. And while the line of skeptics is a long one, this is a front office that often tunes out doubt and criticism better than most organizations around the league. So when Paxson was asked just how this roster would be capable of that – especially void of a true superstar – that front office optimism was again on full display.
“The first part of that is through the draft and to get relevant again,’’ Paxson said, in explaining how the Bulls plan to build an elite roster. “I’m not ruling out Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen being significant players in this league. Zach just turned 24 and I thought Zach had a really good year, a really good year. He grew in a lot of ways where I think he’s going to get better. Lauri’s just still a young guy. As I’ve mentioned many times, the internal growth of our guys is a key part of that.’’
If that doesn’t happen, however, Paxson still sees a path. “I do believe when we establish winning again, that this city is a draw, that this organization is a draw,’’ Paxson said. “But that’s down the road. That’s why we made the deal at the trade deadline for Otto [Porter]. We felt that was a significant piece to becoming a much better basketball team. Over that stretch where we had him and we healthy, we were playing at a level that I could see us playing at in the future. So we’re trying to build toward what you’re talking about.’’
Joe Cowley: VP of basketball operations John Paxson will put the bow on this season today with a final media session. No Gar Forman of course. Expect little news to come out of it, considering Pax did a state of the union address in February. #wheresGar
Michael Reinsdorf: I would say it does go back into basketball operations. We’re always spending money to improve what we do from the basketball side. It’s why we made the decision to build the Advocate Center across the street from the United Center. That was over a $30 million construction. It’s why we have full-time physical therapists on the staff, why we’ve added additional trainers, why we add full-time nutritionists. We added a sports performance coach. We added Doug Collins. It’s why we’ve added to our analytics department the last couple years.
When did you first learn of the trade to Washington and what was your initial reaction? Bobby Portis: "It’s been a crazy two weeks. On Sunday [before the trade deadline], I was seeing rumors and stuff on Twitter and Instagram so I called my agent. I asked him, “Am I in trade talks?” My agent immediately called Gar Forman, who is the GM of the Bulls. Gar Forman said, “No, it would have to be a blockbuster trade. If we were getting [a superstar like] LeBron James or Kevin Durant, then yeah, we’d trade Bobby. But [otherwise], no, we’re not trading Bobby.” So Tuesday comes around and I’m at a G-League game when my agent called me. He said he got a call from Gar and [Bulls VP of Basketball Operations] John Paxson and they were asking questions like, “Does Bobby really want to be here? Does Bobby love being a Bull? Is he fine with his role?” I’ve been having a good year and I guess they were trying to see if I still wanted to be in Chicago. And, obviously, my answer was yes. Who doesn’t want to play for the great city of Chicago? Who doesn’t want to play at United Center and be a Bull?"
Bobby Portis: "On Wednesday, [I’m thinking], “I know for sure that I’m going to be a Bull after the deadline.” We had a game that night, so I went through my pregame routine, got taped, put my jersey on and sat in the locker room. Twenty-three minutes before the game started, one of the coaches told me that our head coach, Jim Boylen, wanted to talk with me. I walked into his office and I see Gar, Pax and Coach Boylen. They told me that they had agreed in principle to trade me. I asked, “Where am I going?” Then, they were hesitant to say. They finally said the Wizards. My heart dropped. My stomach dropped. I didn’t know what to think. I went back to the locker room and I was just hugging everybody, shaking everyone’s hand. Everybody was in shock because nobody knew I was going to be traded. That wasn’t even a thought anyone had considered because they loved me there. It was a crazy feeling. Then, my phone started going haywire, so I guess that’s when the news dropped and everybody found out."
I saw some of your tweets after the deal and I could tell you were upset with how this played out. Did the fact that the front office said you wouldn’t be dealt make it hurt more? Bobby Portis: "Yeah, it really hurts. They told me how much they valued me – that I was part of our core and that I was in the long-term plans. They told me how much they loved my energy, my heart, how hard I worked, how much I loved playing for the Bulls. Them telling me that I’m going to be there [through the deadline] and telling me that they want to work things out this summer [in restricted free agency]. We weren’t able to agree to a contract extension [before the Oct. 15 deadline], but they said they wanted to agree to something this summer before free agency hits. I think back on everything they told me. All this stuff was said and then I don’t even get notified when I’m getting traded? (pause) It’s just a crazy feeling. I guess I’m getting my first taste of the business. Business is business, I guess. I just don’t think it was done the right way."
Payne never made excuses for his erratic play. But he felt the fans’ love for Gibson, coupled with their subsequent disappointment in watching him be traded away, played a sizable role in how he was perceived from the start. “It was huge just because that was their guys,” Payne said of Gibson and McDermott. “Those were the fans’ guys. The fact that I come in and nobody knows me because I haven’t really played. And the way Gar and them portrayed me to be just the next greatest thing — you know. I mean, I’m a young guy. I haven’t played that many games. I’ve got to play to get comfortable also. So I feel like that’s all it was. And I came in on a playoff team. So it was also tough there. It’s just a tough situation.”
"We were all on board with (signing Parker)," said Paxson. "That's all in the past. We're not even going to worry about that. With the situation the way it is, we'll look and see if Jabari gets an opportunity. This thing will be fluid. We have a month until the trade deadline. A lot can happen. We feel really good about getting something done a month early. It's all in building a team. Given where we were at and where we are at today, trying to roll the dice on a young talent (like Parker) is not a bad thing. A lot of teams have had success doing that. The one thing that we continue to do and we think we're on the right track with is if something doesn't work, it's not going to be a long-term issue for us. We'll continue to operate that way."
"You make decisions and hope for the best," Paxson said about releasing Cameron Payne. "The reality is both Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and Shaq (Harrison) have outplayed him. They fit what we want to do. Cam had some struggles with his foot and trying to get him back. "What it does is it gives Chandler an opportunity to play. He'll play some significant minutes I would think," said Paxson. "He has to live up to the standards that Jim wants and we want. But he'll get opportunity. We still have some decisions to make with our roster. But our young guys will play. We're going to be starting a really young team. Looking long term and big picture, this is about the future. We think a year and a half into the big move we made (trading Jimmy Butler), we have to focus on that. It's hard to lose. You walk into the locker room and guys are competing, coaches are preparing, so that's hard. But from my seat, Gar's (Forman) seat, ownership's seat, we have to keep the big picture in mind. And that's what we're doing.
The Bulls have been burned this season, but it is part of the plan. "We're throwing them into the fire. We knew we were going to get younger," Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson told reporters before Friday's game with Indiana. "We knew there would be struggles. We need to see what our young guys can do. Hopefully they'll respond in a competitive way. I keep telling Jim (Boylen, coach), 'This league is always about wins and losses, we always want to win. But right now we have to focus on other things.' We've said that all year long."
It's truly the first step forward after several steps back to try to get the franchise going in the right direction again. "We need to see growth," Paxson said about the young core. "We need to see how they play. We're a month into Jim's tenure now and I think they understand what's expected. So we're going to go out on the road here after these next two games (five starting in Portland Wednesday). That's a good time for a young team to get together. They're going to be hard games. We just need to see development. That's going to be a big key."
“I’m going to coach our team the best I can,’’ Boylen said on Sunday, when asked if having a say in personnel was important to him. “John and Gar know and Michael [Reinsdorf] and Jerry [Reinsdorf] know that I’ll support in any way I can, in any decision they need me to. The job they’ve given me is to coach the team and to try to get our guys compete every night. I’m trying to do that the best I can.’’
In the second meeting on Sunday, the idea of forming a leadership committee was discussed, multiple sources told ESPN. The idea is that in the future, those appointed to the committee would be able to act as a liaison between the players and coaches. It has been made clear that Boylen has been empowered and encouraged by Bulls management to use a firm hand in changing the Bulls' culture. The way Boylen handled Sunday's meetings has reinforced management's belief in the new coach, sources said. They are fully on-board with Boylen's tough-love leadership style.
“My job is to try to push our guys to a place they can’t take themselves,” Boylen said. “That’s pushing them outside their comfort zone. That’s what the Reinsdorfs are paying me for.” The fact Boylen cited ownership is telling. Phil Jackson praised Boylen to Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf after Boylen met with the Hall of Fame coach last summer. And according to team and league sources, executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman raved to ownership about Boylen’s message during Sunday’s meeting, which Paxson and Forman attended.
KC Johnson: Exec VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman both attended today’s 2nd meeting. This is significant because, along with Paxson’s previously publicly stated goal for Boylen to return next season, it underscores the organizational mandate Boylen feels he has to push players.
It wouldn’t be a John Paxson press conference about the boundless bummer that is the Bulls’ on-court product if one reporter didn’t ask if Gar Forman were being fired soon. “Gar is absolutely safe,” Paxson said Monday.
Despite the recent shakeup at the head coaching position, the Chicago Bulls have shown no indication of making changes to their front office, including general manager Gar Forman, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Watch Stadium. “As of now, I haven’t heard anything to the contrary,” said Charania of Forman, per Bernstein & McKnight of WSCR 670 The Score.
KC Johnson: Bobby Portis thanked the Reinsdorfs, Gar and Pax for trying to negotiate an extension. #smooooth
Why does ownership have such long-term faith in management’s ability to rebuild this roster to open another championship window? Michael Reinsdorf: I have a lot of confidence in John Paxson and Gar Forman. I think they’ve done a great job. We made the decision to rebuild. And they secured the best possible deal. I was really happy with that trade. We took the 30th pick in Jimmy Butler and turned it into Zach, Kris and Lauri. That is pretty impressive. I think if you look at their history of our drafts over the years and you compare to other teams in the league, we’re near the top. At the same time, clearly you’re going to have failures when you’re picking players in the draft. Not everyone works out. Jerry West was one of the greatest general managers of all time. If you look at his draft record, you’ll see some players he probably regrets having drafted. You have to be foolish if you didn’t look at some of the really good picks that we’ve had. Jimmy Butler was a really good pick. We drafted Taj Gibson at 26. Bobby Portis was 22nd and look at who was drafted after him. You’re going to make some mistakes. But you also have to recognize the successes.
But clearly you’re aware that there’s a vocal segment of the fan base that has strong enmity towards management. The Fire GarPax billboard would be one example. Does that concern you? Michael Reinsford: You have to tune it out. I recognize our fans are passionate. They want the same thing we want — to win. Fans don’t always have all the information we have. Sometimes, you have to have a long-term perspective. When we made the trade for Jimmy Butler, there were a lot of people who didn’t like that trade. If you watched different commentators, it was not well received. I think now, if you go back and look at that trade today, most people would say that was a great trade for the Bulls. Depending on how Zach, Kris and Lauri develop, that could go from being a good trade to being an incredible trade. Time will tell.
Mike McGraw: Paxson will not confirm nor deny the #Bulls made a promise to Hutchison. "He knew we liked him."
Armstrong represents Derrick Rose, Denzel Valentine, Draymond Green and Suns promising rookie Josh Jackson, among many others. He negotiated Rose’s monster, $185 million lifetime deal with Adidas. And ne now gets to do a different kind of business with Reinsdorf and Paxson, his former backcourt competitor on the Bulls’ first three-peat team. “It hasn’t been awkward at all. Actually, it’s been quite pleasant,” Armstrong said of negotiating with the Bulls. “I consider Jerry (Reinsdorf) a mentor. And I consider John a friend. I’ve known John for almost 30 years.”
KC Johnson: Pax: "Fred will be back, absolutely." This has been reported before. But first time he has said so publicly.
Vincent Goodwill: Bulls EVP John Paxson: "I think we’re in a better place today than we were this time last year."
KC Johnson: Paxson on LaVine's play and upcoming negotiations: "We anticipated he'd have ups and downs."
KC Johnson: Paxson: "We need Zach LaVine to be a better basketball player." Said Dunn and Markkanen have to put work in to improve this summer too.
KC Johnson: John Paxson said he feels comfortable with Kris Dunn as starting PG and Cameron Payne as backup. Jerian Grant not mentioned.
Darnell Mayberry: Paxson on the tanking talk/strategy: “We did this year what we felt was in the long-term best interests of the Bulls. It’s not a situation that any of us ever want to be in again.” #Bulls #BullsNation
KC Johnson: Can’t remember last time this happened: Athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka is being made available to reporters to explain Blakeney injury on Monday and Blakeney playing on Wednesday.
Nick Friedell: Thibs and the Bulls didn't end on good terms. Still a lot of hard feelings within the organization. But I still believe the Bulls missed a major opportunity both last year and tonight by not giving Thibs a video tribute of his own. I think many fans would have appreciated it.
Pressing the reset button on a franchise can be just as tricky as dealing with a faulty vending machine. Sometimes, the items get stuck in the dispenser, the machine doesn’t respond or the wrong button gets pressed and an unwanted item lands in the bin. When the Bulls decided last summer that it was time to move Jimmy Butler and begin their rebuild in earnest by acquiring LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn in a draft-night deal, they understood the risks and accepted a pending struggle. But they didn’t want to be down for long and bank on a string of lottery picks to elevate them back to relevance. They wanted to stockpile some talent to make the losing more tolerable and the rebuild more manageable — but they might’ve stumbled upon a core. “I think the thing for us now is, we’re not starting from rock bottom,” Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “We’ve got these three young talents and you can throw Bobby Portis in, he fits the direction that we’re headed in. We feel we’re headed in the right direction. But we don’t want to oversell anything. We know to win at the highest level in this league you need the great players, and, hopefully, we’ve got one or two of them, somewhere on our roster, that we can grow with and hopefully make the decisions going forward to add to that.”
Fred Hoiberg says Zach LaVine has had a few good practices in a row. He will continue working out with the Bulls this week. Then the Bulls' front office and medical staff will meet with LaVine over the weekend and they will decide what the next step will be as far as playing goes.
Paxson, knowing the rebuild projected tough times ahead, wanted to promote transparency and accountability and be around players and coaches more to offer support. Forman, who recently spent 36 of 42 days on the road scouting, is a measured negotiator, valued by Paxson and ownership for his detail-oriented approach. “I picked John to rebuild when (Jerry) Krause left (in 2003) because he’s a leader. Nothing has changed,” Reinsdorf said Tuesday in a phone interview. “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. “Gar is great with agents. 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.”
“I picked John Paxson to rebuild when (Jerry) Krause left (in 2003) because he’s a leader. Nothing has changed,” Reinsdorf said Tuesday in a phone interview. “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.”
Jerry Reinsdorf: “Gar is great with agents. 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.”
Reinsdorf will turn 82 in two months. Asked why he signed off on another rebuild on top of his White Sox, he chuckled. “I figure I have at the most 15-20 years left and I’d like to win again,” he 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.”
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”.
However, with Jimmy Butler traded, everything changed. According to Lotsos “I knew that the deal will not be completed after the trade. And two days later, Forman called me and explained to me that the team wanted to rebuild, so getting a 30 years old point guard without NBA experience was out of the question”.
Speaking on “The Mully and Hanley” show on WSCR-670 AM Thursday morning, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson echoed the sentiment he stated during the offseason when he said any buyout talks would have to be “advantageous” for the franchise. Translated: Wade would have to give up a significant portion of the $23.8 million he opted into a week before his deadline to do so last June 20.
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.
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has hired Doug Collins as a Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations. In his new role with the club, Collins will report to Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson.
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.”
As reported earlier by WPB, Chicago Bulls consultant Jim Paxson interviewed with the Bucks for the position earlier this week. It has also been learned Glen Grunwald and Gerald Madkins are under consideration for the job.
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.
After sitting courtside in Cleveland for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade met with Bulls management in Chicago on Saturday for his season-ending player exit meeting, sources said. Similar to Jimmy Butler, Wade met briefly with management on April 29, the day after the Celtics eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs. Both sides agreed to meet more substantively after taking some time to decompress.
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.
Carlos Douglas Jr.: A source close to Jimmy Butler says JB is expected to have a "formal face to face meeting" soon & expects to hear the #Bulls plan for future
Carlos Douglas Jr.: Source close to @Jimmy Butler: "JB loves Chicago & would love to form a contender with #Bulls, but the direction is up to the front office."
Vincent Goodwill: Bulls VP John Paxson: "We saw what you saw and a lot of our fans saw. Inconsistency in our play and searching for an identity."
KC Johnson: Bulls say exec VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman will hold season-end session with reporters Wednesday at 11 am.
Carlos Douglas Jr.: Source close to Jimmy Butler: "If JB should remain in Chicago, he'll likely want #Bulls to go after another star player to put next to him."
KC Johnson: Wade said he wants clear direction from organization. "I respect Gar and Pax." Said management told him they want defined direction too.
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."
Butler and other Bulls have had issues with the “spying’’ that goes on in the locker room. He warned new players that if they didn’t want Forman to hear criticism, they shouldn’t talk in front of certain assistant coaches such as Randy Brown. The belief is that the Bulls love to gather as much ammunition as they can on players, so they can win the news conference when the breakup comes, whether it’s a trade or free agency.
Jeff Zillgitt: Rondo apologizes and team says they've cleared the air as front office tries to trade Rondo or waive him. twitter.com/highkin/status…
Nick Friedell: Rajon Rondo says he has a meeting with Bulls GM Gar Forman later tonight. Says he will talk to Forman about his future in Chicago if he continues to stay on the bench.
“Gar (Forman, Bulls GM) and I will have a talk. We’ll talk tonight and go from there. I don’t know if it’s right now, maybe the next 30, 18, 45 minutes. Tonight, before ’17 (the clock strikes midnight).”
A source told CSNChicago.com early Saturday evening a buyout hadn’t been discussed, but that was before the game and things can change quickly. “I’m gonna explode…No, I’m not,” said Rondo when asked what he’d do if the benching continued. “I’m gonna continue to work, get some work in, play some one on one. Take care of my body, lift and give these young guys as much advice while I’m on the bench.”
Rondo signed a two-year, $27.4 million deal, but the second year carries only a $3 million guarantee. If the Bulls chose to waive Rondo — and there aren't yet indications they plan to do so — that $3 million can be stretched over three seasons for an annual $1 million salary-cap hit. Hoiberg met with Rondo, who holds little trade value, Saturday morning at the Advocate Center.
By then, one wonders if the Bulls and Rondo will be working on a buyout to free him from the remainder of his contract — one that includes a $3 million buyout that has to be exercised before next July. “No, I’m not surprised. Not surprised,” Rondo said. “It’s been a tough season. Certain buttons are being pushed and the Bulls are trying to figure things out.”
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.”
August 10, 2022 | 4:20 am EDT Update
Furthermore, the first-year head coach said one wrinkle he will implement and stick with is having the offense run through Anthony Davis, and James concurred, sources said. The team has been encouraged with Davis’ offseason progression and believe he’ll be in optimum shape to avoid serious injuries and carry a heavier load.
James is finalizing a destination to host the team’s annual minicamp prior to training camp, with San Diego being the likely landing space over Las Vegas, sources said. He’s hoping to build a better rapport with teammates before entering the 2022-23 season. The meeting was deemed productive and informative. Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said.
And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports. James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
As for roster tinkering, Pelinka explained patience will be key in any potential moves the team makes, sources said. In a collaborative effort, all parties appear to be aligned on a common vision of seeing how the roster plays out before any drastic moves are sought.
Do you get the sense that the Lakers are trying to make two separate trades using the firsts? One with Westbrook and one with Horton-Tucker/Nunn/etc.? — @crownroyalpapi_ Jovan Buha: Yes, insofar as I think the ultimate price to trade Westbrook will include attaching two first-round picks. If the Lakers can finagle an alternate outcome — be it a pick swap or two second-round picks — that’s a win for them, in my opinion. That seems unlikely, though, which is why there’s a possibility Westbrook isn’t traded. Between the two trades mentioned, the Lakers would prefer the Irving option. I think that’s a deal they’d eventually be willing to include two first-round picks for. I don’t think they’d be willing to do so in the Indiana deal.
Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to make it clear he does not hate coach Steve Nash or general manager Sean Marks despite what a source told The Post about his feelings Monday. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean. That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance,” his agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told The Post.
Durant, among other things, was not consulted on the Nets’ firing of assistant coach and director of player development Adam Harrington when the season ended, the source believes. “There are simple things that erode a relationship. You fired someone he was close to and didn’t have a conversation about it,” the source said.