With the Chicago Bulls in the midst of a rebuild and fans anxiously praying for the number one pick in the lottery, there has been a lot of talk recently about the state of the organization from reporters, players, and members of the front office.
So, let’s examine what’s going on with the famed Bulls franchise.
In a recent interview with 670 The Score on the McNeil and Parkins Show, John Paxson vehemently denied the perception that veteran players don’t want to come to the team.
“There’s a lot of generalities here…that players have this perception but you’re not telling me any names and you’re not giving me any specifics. People can have their opinion and it’s whatever. I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there. There’s a lot of things in your talk radio forum that people latch on to and take as gospel and then use that as a way to not only criticize but mock, name call…all these things that are wrong.”
McNeil and Parkins were referring to the recent reports that soon to be free agent Anthony Davis has no interest in playing for the Bulls and they also referenced the Yahoo! Sports report that claimed Bulls players contacted the players union to complain about head Coach Jim Boylen’s methods.
Despite Paxson’s belief that this perception is wrong and based on misinformation, Bobby Portis, who was just traded from the Bulls to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr., might disagree.
“They told me how much they valued me – that I was part of our core and that I was in the long-term plans.” Portis told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype..
“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. We weren’t able to agree to a contract extension, 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.”
So, according to Bobby Portis, there’s definitely some truth to the idea that the Bulls are not the most professional franchise. However, when asked if it was nice to get out Chicago after the reports of players contacting the union to complain about Jim Boylen, Portis had a different opinion.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about anyone in the Chicago Bulls’ organization. They’re a first-class organization and they do everything the right way.”
Michael Reinsdorf, the Chief Operating Officer of the Bulls, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, reiterated the thought that his organization is doing everything the right way. Reinsdorf believes that the team and the organization are in great shape. He supports the moves that Gar Forman and John Paxson have made and also agreed with Paxson’s decision to keep head coach Jim Boylen for next season.
“I’m very happy with the job that Jim has done. Everything he has said he was going to do, he has done.” Reinsdorf told the Tribune. “In the beginning, he worked on a lot of details, making sure we were doing the basics. Once he felt those were taken care of, he sped it up and allowed for more up-tempo offense.”
“This is our second rebuild. And given where we are today, I think for Year 2 of our rebuild to have two potential All-Stars in Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine and a great draft pick in Wendell Carter Jr., we’re in good shape. “
“I look at rebuilds and what some other teams have gone through, and I have confidence in where we are. I try to look beyond the standings and what the potential is. I look at the Sacramento Kings. They’re a team that last year wasn’t very good and they’ve made a tremendous jump this year. We’re poised to make a similar jump.”
While Reindorf’s passionate defense of his team and his front office appears respectable, Bulls’ fans don’t want to be the Sacramento Kings who currently sit as the ninth seed in the Western Conference.
If Michael and his dad Jerry are okay with that, well then they clearly don’t care about winning as much as they say they do, and unless every potential free agent reads and believes Portis’ statement about them being a “first-class” organization, the Bulls won’t be signing any big name free agents anytime soon.
Now to bring all of this together, former Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, Nick Friedell, who now covers the Golden State Warriors, in an interview with ESPN 1000s Waddle and Silvy, completely disagreed with Reinsdorf and Paxson’s perception of the franchise.
“The reputation of the Chicago Bulls around the NBA is that they are cheap,” Friedell told Waddle and Silvy.
“I’ve had plenty of run-ins with Gar and Pax over time but I’ve never believed that they didn’t want to win. I think their heart has always been in the right place. The reality is though, when you talk to people around the league, they laugh at the Bulls. They laugh at the structure that Mike has in place.”
“The biggest problem I have with the Bulls, having been around them for so long and seeing the way other teams operate is that they don’t spend enough money all the time. And their reputation throughout the league is one in which people know that when push comes to shove whether you make the best decision for your organization or you make the best decision financially, they will make the best decision financially. And that is the perception that has been there for years and it’s only grown stronger once Michael came into more power.”
Whether Paxson believes it or not, Friedell’s comments drive the point home that this perception of the Bulls franchise is real throughout the NBA and it exists for a reason.
Paxson needs to understand that perception is reality and if NBA reporters, agents, and players have a negative view of the Bulls organization then the reality is that future free agents like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard will have no interest in coming to Chicago.
So, until Paxson and Reinsdorf choose to start believing what is really going on, nothing is going to change for the Bulls’ franchise.