I don’t want to say I told you so, but…
Just kidding. I absolutely do.
After the Bulls looked lifeless in two home defeats that brought their series with the Celtics into a 2-2 tie, I warned you of what was coming. And no, it wasn’t winter. The new season of Game of Thrones airs in July, but Chicago summer is just around the corner. Two more quick defeats and a playoff exit is what was coming. An embarrassingly one-sided home loss in Game 6 is what was coming. Another maddeningly confusing press conference from GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson is what was coming.
Check, check and check. I told you so.
On Wednesday morning, less than a week after another painfully mediocre season came to a merciful end, the two-headed monster took to the podium to offer their thoughts and field questions. Honestly, they could’ve saved themselves and the media some time by simply emailing everyone a transcript of their press conference from April of last year. You know, the one they had after failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008? If you removed any mentions of new team staples Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade from Wednesday’s affair, the vague platitudes spouted by Forman and Paxson were a shot-for-shot remake.
Hypocrisy, conflicting strategies and a lack of a clear direction moving forward. Oh, what a difference a year makes.
So what, exactly, did we learn from this duo’s latest media session? Let’s dive in.
Gar and Paxson did appear to have concrete opinions on a few ideas. For example, the importance of Rondo to this team on the court and in the locker room.
“Outside of Rondo, our point guards did not play with push and pace the way Fred wants to play. So yes, we have to continue to look at the style he wants to play, and look at players that fit that.” – John Paxson
…And yet your head coach benched Rondo in favor of young scrubs and you guys tried to trade him at the deadline. Good call. Hypocrisy #1.
“To a man, our young people loved Rajon. He was great in the locker room. He was great off the court with these guys; took them under his wing in a lot of ways, and he was responsible for a lot of the good things that came from them…To be candid with you, when we had that incident where Dwyane and Jimmy spoke up in January, when [Rondo] stood up for our young guys, that empowered them a little bit. It might be small but there was some growth with our young guys. Because they felt they had a voice as a young player and for us that was important.” – John Paxson
…Is that why you fined Rondo for the Instagram post? “We really appreciate your leadership and the mentor role you’re playing. Here’s a fine for speaking your mind.” Good call. Hypocrisy #2.
Despite the ugly hiccups that Rondo and his bosses endured midseason, his play down the stretch and into their first two playoff games apparently cemented his return. So take that $13.4 million out of the Bulls’ salary cap flexibility this summer.
Paxson, to his credit, didn’t mince words when he gave his first impression of the season before taking questions.
“We saw what you saw and what a lot of our fans saw. And that is inconsistency in our play and really a team that was searching for an identity much of the season.” – John Paxson
If there’s one player on this Bulls roster that defines the inconsistency that plagued the group, it’s Nikola Mirotic. The third year forward takes two steps back after every single step forward. He follows a strong performance by ghosting for a week or two. As a restricted free agent this summer, the Bulls need to decide if he’s a piece to keep moving forward.
“Obviously, Niko had an up-and-down year. He would be the first to tell you that he was disappointed he wasn’t more consistent, as were we at times. In saying that, we value Niko…We see him as a 25-year-old, six-foot-10 guy who can shoot. He’s got to get better in certain areas…As we talked to him, Niko made it clear that he wants to be in Chicago…But you don’t know what’s going to happen within the market, and those are decisions we’ll have to make as time comes. But we certainly would hope that Niko would be back.” – Gar Forman
It sounds like Gar and Paxson have every intent to keep Mirotic on board, in spite of his inconsistencies. You know, the kind of inconsistency that represented the team’s biggest problem this season. Good call. Hypocrisy #3.
I’m sorry, but if any teams out there offer Niko anything above minimum wage, the Bulls better let him walk. When Niko is good, he’s good. But for a three year veteran with overseas experience, his bad far too often outweighs his good.
Speaking of Niko, let’s now go over some of the more egregious examples of hypocritical nonsense offered by Forman and Paxson as they tried to spin-talk their way out of an ugly situation.
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