That question has been on the minds of NBA fans everywhere. Despite having his name in NBA trade rumors for nearly a year, the Bulls have yet to state in public that their superstar forward is off limits. There are also rumblings that the Chicago Bulls’ front office consisting of John Paxson and Gar Forman is divided when it comes to a potential Jimmy Butler trade.
The silence from the Chicago Bulls’ front office has come across as apathetic for the franchise’s future. They seem to be more interested in simply making the playoffs and generating some revenue for what Forbes states is the NBA’s fourth-highest valued team. The Chicago Bulls are valued at $2.5 billion, with a revenue estimation of $232 million.
Since the Chicago Bulls are a profitable organization despite not having an NBA Finals appearance since 1998, there may not be a true sense of urgency from their front office to shake things up. But Bulls’ fans are beginning to get restless. Eventually, they will demand that the Bulls make a decision on a direction. The Bulls have been a middling franchise for a while. And in the NBA, when your team is stuck in the middle for so long, fans take their entertainment dollars elsewhere.
Jimmy Butler is a top-15 NBA player. Butler, along with the deprecating basketball skills of Dwyane Wade, is not enough to get the Bulls in the upper half of the Eastern Conference. And that should have their front office considering changes. Unfortunately, there is a division when it comes to the Bulls dealing Jimmy Butler.
The Ringer is reporting that there has been some acrimony developing inside the Chicago Bulls front office over rebuilding the team. The problems have stemmed from the trade negotiations with the Boston Celtics over Jimmy Butler. Gar Forman, the Bulls’ general manager wants things to remain the same. The same for the Bulls would be to make the playoffs, guarantee two postseason home games, and benefit from the profits.
Conversely, team Vice President John Paxson does not buy into that plan. He wants to rebuild the team. The quickest way to rebuild the team is by trading Jimmy Butler for draft picks and young players. A deal with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers expedites the process for the Bulls. According to The Ringer’s report, Paxson may be alone in this camp.
“When the Bulls and Celtics talked Butler last summer, there was organizational disharmony between Chicago’s four primary decision-makers (owner Jerry Reinsdorf, president Michael Reinsdorf, general manager Gar Forman, and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson). Not all of them were committed to rebuilding; according to a league front-office executive, Paxson “sees the writing on the wall,” whereas Forman is comfortable with the status quo, while ownership is not amenable to any potential trades.”
In the minds of many, trading Butler now, rather than later allows the Bulls to get a jump on rebuilding. It would not hurt the Bulls’ bottom line of generating revenue in the slightest. Bulls’ fans are known to be loyal to their team win or lose. This explains the $252 million surplus of the Bulls.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 23, 2017
Fans have ignored the 28-29 record and come to the games. They remained faithful during the post-Michael Jordan years when amassing 25 wins was a question mark. They would be on board if the Bulls dealt Jimmy Butler, even if it meant that they would miss out on the playoffs.
Contrary to belief, if the Chicago Bulls were to trade Jimmy Butler, they would still be in the running for a playoff berth. The Bulls only have to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Hornets. Also, at least one of the players would, in return, be an immediate help to them. The drop-off from Jimmy Butler would not be as steep as one might seem.
The Chicago Bulls getting back Marcus Smart or Jae Crowder in return would guarantee a capable starter with the ability to score and defend. If it is Avery Bradley, the Bulls would get a legitimate starting shooting guard with an emerging offensive game.
Either of the three would keep things afloat. And if the status quo is to shoot for the playoffs, trading Butler for Bradley, Crowder, or Smart, and draft picks actually keep things the same, with a couple of building blocks. According to Bleacher Report, Jae Crowder is one of the Bulls’ targets if they decide to deal Butler.
Currently, the Bulls have the seventh seed in the East. The team that is in the ninth spot and two games behind the Bulls are the Bucks. After a season-ending injury happened to Jabari Parker, it is doubtful that the Bucks catch the Bulls.
The Hornets are another team dealing with problems. Their struggles are based on their on-court play. They can get back on track, but it is looking bleak for them.
The Miami Heat are the team on the upswing. And they will be the team the Chicago Bulls would have to hold off. The Bulls have a difficult schedule coming up, as seven of the next nine games are against opposition who are currently in the playoffs. The Bulls could finish 5-4 with or without Jimmy Butler.
That alone should force the Chicago Bulls’ front office to get over some things and pick a direction. We will find out in a few hours exactly what the Chicago Bulls do.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]