Chicago Bulls commentary: Trade deadline letdown


The Chicago Bulls are among the NBA’s biggest losers after the February 18th trade deadline.

Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson did us dirty.

Prior to the Feb. 18th trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls rumor mill buzzed with activity. Was this going to be the first year that the Bulls actually make a trade to improve the team at the unofficial midway point of the season? After an egregious 27-25 start to the season the Bulls needed to shake up this roster. They did; kind of…? Mind you in the biggest tease way possible.

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Thursdays are busy for me with nonstop homework and classes from the time I wake up until about 2:00. I don’t bring my phone with me during the day and I didn’t have an opportunity to check my laptop, so I was completely out of the loop in terms of last minute trade moves that had gone down. I got home and noticed that my phone had several notifications from ESPN. I got excited! Is Gasol FINALLY gone? Did Gar Forman and John Paxson finally do something productive with their lives and make a meaningful move prior to a trade deadline?

No, they didn’t. The Bulls traded point guard Kirk Hinrich for Atlanta Hawks swingman Justin Holiday (who?) and a second round draft pick. What the heck?

So let me get this straight….this is the move that you’re going to make to try to resurrect a broken season? A no-name guard who has a career average of 3.8 points per game on 37 percent from the field and a second round pick. When was the last time Forman and Paxson delivered on a second round pick? Cameron Bairstow, Erik Murphy, Malcom Lee, Sonny Weems and Aaron Gray all turned out great. Give me a break.

The Bulls would have been better off keeping Kirk Hinrich. The 35-year-old veteran has played well in limited minutes this season. While his scoring numbers aren’t overly impressive, he has a high defensive IQ and is one of the few respected leaders in a locker room that has continued to crumble into oblivion.

According to Chicago Tribune reporter K.C. Johnson, this move was about shedding salary.

Important: The Bulls still aren’t under the luxury tax threshold even after dumping Kirk Hinrich’s salary.

And the Bulls are back to where they started minus a veteran leader and his $3 million contract. The Bulls disinterested 106-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night showed that nothing has changed with this team. Wait, excuse me, something has changed. The Bulls used to just play down to the worse teams in the NBA, now they play down to everybody. There is a reason that the Bulls have now lost 14 of their last 20 games. This team isn’t good, and the trade deadline move didn’t make them any better.

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Good job Gar Forman and John Paxson. You guys have proven your uselessness yet again.

In a post-trade deadline phone conversation with the aforementioned K.C. Johnson, Forman tried to justify what the Bulls did at the trade deadline. However, he sounded as clueless as ever (bold type is K.C Johnson’s questions, the rest is Forman).

"Why didn’t you trade Pau Gasol?Because we like him. We value Pau. We value him on the floor and the leadership he brings. We didn’t make calls looking to move Pau. We received calls on most of our players. Our job is to listen and to hear what people have to offer and get the pulse of what is happening around the league.Is re-signing Gasol a priority?“We really like Pau. We were thrilled when he came. We think he has been very good for us these last two years. We see him as a part of our core."

Pau Gasol has already publicly stated that he will opt out of his current contract, yet the Bulls “didn’t make calls looking to move Pau” to try to get value back for the 35-year-old center. They also consider him “part of [your] core” at the age of 35.

Last week, ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst reported that the Bulls planned to re-sign Gasol via free agency this summer assuming he opts out of the final year of his current contract.

Besides the fact that Gasol doesn’t fit the offense that Hoiberg has tried to implement, re-signing Gasol would handcuff the Bulls monetarily. SB Nation writer “The Hungarian Jordan” crunched the numbers in a recent article. A basic summary: the Bulls can re-sign Gasol, but it would seriously hamper its ability to sign additional quality free agents.

Trading Gasol on Thursday made complete sense from both a basketball and economic standpoint. As Forman indicated in his interview, “we received calls on most of our players.” The opportunity was there to make the right move, and the Bulls front office whiffed.

The sad part about this is that any casual fan can see why the Bulls should have traded Gasol. Yet, the front office, who are paid millions of dollars to make bad decisions, couldn’t see it. Instead, they traded Kirk Hinrich which doesn’t help the Bulls in the short term. By not trading Gasol, they hurt themselves in the long term.

Next: Kings aggressively pursuing Gasol

In previous articles, I blamed Fred Hoiberg for the failures of the Bulls this season. I’d like to ceremoniously pass the blame over to Gar Forman and John Paxson. They were the ones that hired Hoiberg, fired Thibodeau and continue to make head-scratching roster moves that haven’t helped the Bulls improve at all.