Is the Bulls' self-sabotage era ending?

Chicago is interviewing candidates for a front office role. It might actually lead to change.

Good morning. Let’s curse our disappointed activity trackers.


Bullfight, Francisco Goya

This is interesting: on the day that Yahoo!’s Vincent Goodwill reports that respected Nuggets deputy Arturus Karnisovas is the leading candidate for the Bulls’ front office quasi-opening, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago mainstay John Paxson is willing to resign from the team entirely if it suits the new GM and managing partner Michael Reinsdorf. Paxson, after 20 years of controlling the franchise’s basketball operations for better and often worse, is essentially willing to fire himself instead of becoming an adviser to ownership.

The Bulls have been chasing a new member of the front office after demoting Gar Forman and amid reports that Paxson was willing to take a back seat. But Paxson’s mere presence in the franchise and the loyalty the Reinsdorfs have shown him (for whatever reason) has rightly made folks question whether a legitimate rising star general manager would take the job. Top deputies in Miami and Indiana reportedly declined an interview. But the Bulls were able to snag interviews with Karnisovas and Justin Zanik of the Jazz, two hot names on the executive hot stove. If they land Karnisovas, who is otherwise in position to continue building his name in the front office of a rising franchise, that will be a big sign that something the Bulls’ power structure told Karnisovas is believable.

Because no one wants to be the general manager that gets overruled by John Paxson the moment old Jerry Reinsdorf complains about something.

The new GM of the Bulls will need to have some sort of leverage if Paxson remains in an advisory role, like the backbone to resign if turned into a puppet. Loyal Bulls fans deserve a functioning front office and Chicago should again have a marquee NBA team. The front office has drafted rather well under Paxson and Forman, but has a tendency to run into trouble when it comes to the coaching staff (even when they hire good coaches!) and free agency, which has been a nightmare and should be a strength for a resource-rich franchise in a marquee city. Karnisovas or whoever ends up in the job will need the freedom to spend money in free agency and hire a modern coach. Fixing the coaching staff might also help with another current weakness (which hasn’t always been a problem with the Paxson/Forman front office): player development.

Getting more out of young playersLauri Markannen and Wendell Carter, adding key free agent talent, building a better team culture around the youngsters and Zach LaVine: that’s what the Bulls need to climb back up the ladder and stay there. This could be a huge first step, a turning point in the modern history of the franchise.

Or it could be more of the same. It’s up to whether Paxson is honestly willing to step away, whether the younger Reinsdorf is willing to force him away and just how much leverage and control Karnisovas or whoever takes the job truly ends up with. Good luck.

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