Jerry Reinsdorf has never been what one would call the greatest owner. Yes, he has six NBA championships and deserves more respect. However, that success was basically dropped into his lap when he bought the Chicago Bulls in 1985. One year after the team had drafted Michael Jordan. The table was already set. He merely reaped the rewards. Is it a coincidence his teams haven’t even reached an NBA Finals since Jordan retired?
Part of why Reinsdorf has struggled for so many years is his inability to find the right people to lead the front office. Too often he’s settled for in-house guys and never bothers to go after potential big fish. Gar Forman and John Paxson are the most obvious example. Now that both appear to be on their way out of the picture, it’s the biggest opportunity in years for Bulls ownership to finally get serious about putting the best in charge.
Of course, such an idea is laughable.
While the word is the team will seek an outside option for their top executive job this time around, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic made it clear they have no intention of going after the biggest names.
“With longtime tandem John Paxson and Gar Forman expected to be reassigned from their respective roles as executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, the Bulls, led by president and COO Michael Reinsdorf, have zeroed in on four preliminary executives across the league. Sources tell The Athletic they are Toronto GM Bobby Webster, Denver GM Arturas Karnisovas, Indiana GM Chad Buchanan and Miami vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager Adam Simon.
More could be added to the mix, but the Bulls, sources say, will not pursue Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri or longtime Oklahoma City exec Sam Presti, marquee names some fans hoped the team’s frustrated ownership would present with a blank check. The team also will not look to high-powered player agents, an increasingly trendy approach and one that rules out Chicago-based Priority Sports founder Mark Bartelstein as a possible candidate.”
Chicago Bulls are targeting guys who are easy to control
Presti has done marvelous work keeping the Thunder playoff contenders despite tons of roster turnover in recent years. Ujiri transformed the Raptors into NBA champions. Something nobody saw coming. Those guys are proven commodities who understand team-building. However, they also know their value and aren’t the types who will be easily controlled. In the remarkably political atmosphere of this Bulls organization, that won’t cut it.
The team clearly wants somebody with credibility, but also won’t be too expensive and can be easier to control. Webster took a back seat to Ujiri in Toronto. Simon is a right-hand man to Pat Riley in Miami. Karnisovas and Buchanan have done their work outside of the spotlight for smaller market teams. Do any of those guys feel like the type who will survive to be anything other than extensions of Paxson behind closed doors?
Not really. Maybe that’s mistaken, but nothing about this front office renovation seems like the Bulls have any intention of getting serious about actually changing.