The idea of adding Russell Westbrook has caught the imagination of many Chicago Bulls fans lately. Oklahoma City has made the 8-time All-Star available via trade. The organization is looking to rebuild and shed salary. Already they dealt Paul George to the Clippers in a blockbuster deal. Now removing Westbrook’s $38.5 million cap hit in 2019-2020 is their next objective. Chicago has ways they could make a deal work, but that would depend on how interest John Paxson and Gar Foreman are in such an idea.
Knowing their history, the answer wasn’t hard to surmise. Chicago has never been aggressive in pursuing big trades for veteran players, even if they are stars. They’re much more about grabbing talent in the draft and supplementing it with the hopeful addition of a star in free agency. The only problem is their record in the latter has been pitiful for years. Hence the frustration of fans and desire to try this different approach.
Paxson though has never been a man known for bowing to public pressure. It served him well as a player and remains something that carries him through in the Bulls front office. So when asked about the Westbrook Question on 670 The Score, his answer was long-winded but hardly surprising.
John Paxson says Bulls will avoid any Westbrook entanglements
There were a number of reasons Paxson listed, but two were primarily referenced multiple times. The fact that Westbrook costs what he does at 30-years old and the fact the team brass believes strongly in the potential of their young core. Especially Lauri Markannen and Zach Lavine. If they develop properly, the team may turn into a hot destination in the near future.
“When you look at the financial aspect of a player that’s 30 going out four years (on his contract) and the amount of money that’s going to be made, those things can tie your hands up and put your organization in a tough position…
…You want the superstars. You want to do what the Clippers are doing and the Lakers are doing, but we’re realistic right now. We’re not in that position. We hope that in a couple years with the development of these young guys, players around the league view us as a destination point where they can win at the highest level. I believe we’ll be there if our young guys perform the way we hope they will.”
It’s not a bad plan in terms of its logic. The Bulls have a host of young talent on their roster. Several names with high upside. Not just Markannen and Lavine but also Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and now Coby White. None of them may be superstars, but they could forge the kind of lineup that would entice a superstar to come to Chicago and complete the puzzle. Sort of like what the Cavaliers did with LeBron James back in 2014.