Chicago Bulls end of season press conference: Jafar and Iago

Jun 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman speaks during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman speaks during a press conference at Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

I had no idea how to title this article. As an editor, that’s kind of a big problem. Speaking of big problems, John Paxson and Gar Forman held a 40-minute press conference on Wednesday, talking all things Chicago Bulls. I’ve got some bad news.

Paxson and Forman have doubled down. They dug in deep with the 2016-17 roster. Now, when pressed about their follow-up to that woeful campaign, they failed to provide any clarity or inspire confidence in their “plan.”

GarPax sat behind a table while reporters asked about the hole the front office dug – for themselves, for their players, for Fred Hoiberg – and they didn’t shed light on anything. They asked for more shovels.

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Shovels, that’s all Paxson was willing to commit to when pressed about the hole they dug. On the seldom occasion when Iago, I mean Forman, was allowed to speak, it almost always started with, “What John said.”

And while I’m all over the place, now seems like a good time to point out that Paxson as Jafar and Forman as the Gilbert Gottfried-voiced parrot sidekick is perfect.

Now that I’ve warmed you up with my witty catchphrases, let’s get down to business. It’s time to discuss the single most offensive, absurd, outright incompetent point that both front office faces tried to push and reinforce today: the money.

There was mention of money several times.

There are so many follow-up questions. Chicago has done nothing but clog up their cap space. They made interesting choices years ago on guys like Carlos Boozer, then the not-too-shabby Pau Gasol deal, squeezing all of the cap dollars. In 2016, the cap had a massive spike. What did the Bulls do? Signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade.

Wade made $23.2 million in 2016-17. He has a 2017-18 player option for $23.8 million. Rondo made $14 million last year. Chicago has a team option on Rondo in 2017-18 at $13.39 million. That’s two players way on the wrong side of 30 years old, given multi-year deals, taking up $37 million in cap space.

Important to remember, and maybe Gar doesn’t know this, the cap isn’t going to keep sky-rocketing. In fact, the biggest lurch is now over and it’s slated to be a much more modest bump for the upcoming season, and even less movement is anticipated after that.

Hey John, congrats on the technicality. You absolutely hosed this roster by investing multiple years and mondo money in two players that shouldn’t be starting for the Bulls. You correctly said that you’ve not handed out a four-year deal, but you did some serious damage that is going to keep a lot of money on the books.

Here’s another thing that I assume most people know, but might have escaped GarPax – when the cap is leveling out and Chicago climbs out from under these contracts, they’ll have to pay up for Jimmy Butler. And that also doesn’t take into account what appears to be the full intention of the front office to match offers on Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio. Both of those guys will get some kind of three- and four-year offer sheets from suitors, and they’ll both be up for significant raises over their current salaries.

Makes this team look hamstrung, doesn’t it? Not so fast!

From the transcription of the press conference, posted by Stephen Noh at The Athletic:

"“Forman: When that time comes, if you’ve got a level of flexibility, it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities where we won’t be hamstrung and feel we’ll be in an advantageous situation. Those are things we look at.”"

At this point, I’m wondering what they plan to throw at age 38 LeBron James or how they figure they can lure a star like Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook away from their current teams.

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All of this ignores a reality that exists in both baseball and basketball – teams are getting smarter about locking up their talent to long-term deals. Where baseball knows no bounds, there are limits in basketball, but they favor the incumbent team, not outside threats. The Bulls can’t offer anyone a true max, they have to hope they can get superstars to take on less money and fewer years to join Jimmy.

Also, with Jimmy’s next contract on the horizon, they really have made a mess of this money situation. Either they’re going to give him a max or lose him. And by that time, when they finally have this “cap flexibility” that Forman crows about, they’ll be signing Butler and out of room for any mega-star free agent types.

Don’t allow yourself to think that Forman has this all figured out, either. Moments before boasting about the advantageous situation Chicago finds itself in, Paxson had a different answer, again from The Athletic’s transcription:

"“Paxson: We’ve got a lot of guys under contract currently. The landscape is such that to make significant change right now will be difficult.From that perspective, to think that we could just up and massively move pieces and parts is not realistic. It’s not. We have guys signed to contracts. “"

Two things are displayed here: organizational inconsistency and borderline insanity.

There is a major disconnect between Paxson acknowledging that they have a lot of guys (and money) under contract right now, which would make any move difficult. The idea of making moves is not “realistic” to John. Forman, later in the press conference, talks up that “advantageous situation” they see the team in moving forward because of their great salary cap situation. It’s bad when a boss says something and a following remark from a direct report contradicts that statement.

Also, this is completely bananas. Paxson and Forman are sitting on the head of the table in this franchise, both on the same story arc as Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) in Caddyshack. The more I think about it, the more accurate it feels. GarPax is fighting their own gopher infestation, except they’re the gophers, chasing their own mess and pointing fingers at no one – except themselves.