Will the Bulls make big front office changes? Here's how it might look if it happens.
This is hardly breaking news, but the Bulls are in a rough spot right now.
They did nothing before Thursday's NBA trade deadline. This is a team that needs help, but there's wasn't much that could be done.
They made a bad gamble by taking on Otto Porter's bloated contract last year. Now they have young players trying to develop, but not enough veterans around to teach them the ropes; plus a star player in Zach LaVine who is getting more frustrated by the day. Then thanks to the $28 million owed Porter next season, there's no salary cap room to add players this summer.
Maybe better news in on the horizon. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about getting Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Kris Dunn and Porter back from injury by early March and having a 20-game run at full strength to end the season.
Maybe that will happen. Maybe it will provide glimpses of a brighter future. The Bulls' front office has been on a losing streak for a few years and a likely scenario when the season ends is they'll bring in a new head of basketball operations. That was another reason not to make a significant trade this week.
The future of the Bulls' front office is still to be determined. Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf are probably still mulling over the possibilities. But there are a few questions that come with making a change, so let's take a look:
Who makes the decision?
Obviously, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and his son Michael are running the show. But Jerry spends most of his time in Arizona thinking more about his baseball team and trusting Paxson to run the basketball operations. Michael has focused on the business side of the Bulls and trusted Paxson to run operations.
So who do the Reinsdorfs turn to for advice? That's not clear. Does Paxson think changes are needed in the front office? He was asked this question directly a few weeks ago and declined to answer.
What about Pax and Gar?
Team sources expect Paxson will move into an advisory role. And that could be fine. The White Sox did a similar switch with Kenny Williams moving up and Rick Hahn taking over the baseball operations, and that seems to be working well.
The most important thing is a new head of basketball operations must report to the Reinsdorfs, not Paxson. Paxson is a smart guy and might have plenty to add in the future, but for change to happen, he needs to step aside.
Forman, who's moved into more of a scouting role in recent years, is close with Michael Reinsdorf. Paxson and Forman should be financially secure after a long run with the Bulls. Reinsdorf shouldn't feel he owes either of them special treatment.
Who should the Bulls hire?
There are couple of examples they could follow. The Knicks reportedly are set to turn to longtime player agent Leon Rose, following in the footsteps of the Lakers (Rob Pelinka) and Warriors (Bob Myers), who also hired former agents. Maybe the Reinsdorfs should ask Chicago native Mark Bartelstein if he's interested in the job.
A more likely scenario would be to add someone with experience working in a successful organization. Shane Battier, the Miami Heat's vice president of basketball development and analytics, will be a strong candidate, but league sources suggest he could be tough to pry away from Pat Riley and the Heat.
Here are a few more suggestions: Dan Tolzman, the Toronto Raptors' vice president of player personnel, is young, but has gotten credit for finding and developing hidden gems like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
Someone else in the Raptors umbrella is assistant coach Adrian Griffin, who played for the Bulls and might be able to bring some winning principles from Toronto to Chicago.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. is in his first season as an assistant general manager for Golden State after serving as a pro scout last year. He grew up in the NBA, with a father in the business.
Milwaukee Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton played for Kansas' 1988 NCAA title team, so Stacey King knows him well. The Bucks have also done a nice job of uncovering second-round steals like Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon. Newton has only been with the Bucks for three years, so he may not deserve the credit, but he's also worked for the Wizards and Timberwolves.
People around the league have said, despite past misadventures in the Bulls' front office, they expect plenty of people would jump at the chance to lead one of the NBA's premier franchises.
The Bulls had decent success from the time Paxson took over for Jerry Krause in 2003 through the Tom Thibodeau era. Since then, not much has gone right. If the Bulls were slightly less mistake-prone, they could have LaVine, Jimmy Butler and Spencer Dinwiddie now.
And that's why they're in a tough spot today.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls