Opinion: The GarPax Regime Needs to Stop, NOW!


Bulls General Manager Gar Forman (right) and Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson (collectively known as “GarPax”) answer questions at a recent press conference (Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls)

AJ Shaw, Staff Writer

The Chicago Bulls have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past decade. The highest of highs came early on, with the 2010-11 season consisting of 62 wins, an MVP campaign from Derrick Rose, and a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the season ended when they lost in five games to the Miami Heat big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

Despite this crushing defeat, the Bulls looked destined for a championship in the near future with the leadership of a 23 year old Rose and a great supporting cast lead by Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. The following season the Bulls won 50 games in a lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign and once again claimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, except boom, this happened:

To many, this injury not only saw the end of the career for D-Rose, but also the death of the Bulls. A team that for two straight years held the league’s best record, with the league’s best player, best coach, and best core around him now were going down into the worst possible thing you go to in sports: mediocrity.

This slow decline has lead to dismal results more recently. The Bulls finished 27-55 last season, and this season are currently sitting with a 13-44 record, which is fourth worst in the NBA behind Cleveland, Phoenix, and New York. So, the Bulls are rebuilding and with this losing it seems like they’re going in the right direction, but they really aren’t.

From a fan’s perspective over the past couple of seasons, I feel like the Bulls have really made no significant strides in their rebuild. Sure, we’re still very early in this process, but my biggest feeling is that the Bulls are stuck in that state where they think they are good enough to contend and try to pick up players who can help you win now, but are still nowhere close to that area.

The recent trade the Bulls made this past week, which was trading sixth man Bobby Portis, offseason pickup Jabari Parker, and a future second round pick to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr, shows this thinking. The Bulls stated that they did not want to pay Portis this offseason, believing that some NBA team would offer $15-$20 million, and would force the Bulls to match the offer (NBA teams are allowed to match offers that other teams sign a restricted free agent to in the NBA).

This move is seen by the front office as adding Porter as their future small forward but they failed miserably here. Porter is due to make a grand total of over $53 million over the next two seasons with the Bulls. Now for a team who claims to be rebuilding but is not interested in spending big money, isn’t it just strange that the organization would be willing to get Porter on a very expensive contract?

The other thing I question here is the upcoming draft. The 2019 Draft looks to be a very talented class with the top prize being Duke small forward Zion Williamson. With the Bulls being as putrid as they are, I just find it odd that they think Porter is their future small forward even though the top three prospects in this upcoming draft have the size and the ability to play that position.

So why are the Bulls so keen on having Porter as their future small forward when they really don’t have a legit franchise player (like a LeBron or Steph Curry) and the small forward prospects in this draft look like franchise faces? That is the problem with this current regime. Like Chicagoan Kanye West once said, “you ain’t got the answers!” and the Bulls front office certainly does not have the answers.

So how do we fix the problem? It is quite easy. Number one, tank the rest of the season. The Bulls are already bad enough as it is and winning games isn’t going to help your draft position if they try to win games.

After the season is over, you fire both Forman and Paxson, and you also fire coach Jim Boylen, because clearly his message isn’t getting across to the team from players skipping practices after blowout losses to former players taking jabs at him in the media.

Once you’ve have gotten rid of these guys, you need to make a move for a basketball executive who brings brand new ideas instead of the same old ideas that have not worked for the past 20 years. If you look at other teams in Chicago, like the Blackhawks, Cubs, or Bears, they have all gone through this kind of rebuild that saw them bring in a new GM or head executive with different ideas and ultimately led these teams from either the bottom of the league into contention and championships.

Once you have this new GM at the helm, you now need to continue to work with your young guys to continue to develop their games and continue to acquire draft capital so you have more picks and assets to make draft picks and trades so you can accelerate the rebuild.

Sure, this process will lead to a couple years of losing, but if the Bulls stick to this plan, then they will be on the road to being relevant again in the NBA, and the top teams in the league like Golden State or Toronto are not going to be at the top for long.

So, that is how you fix the Bulls. If they stick to this plan, they will be on the fast track for future success, but if they don’t, you may need to consider finding another team to root for in the foreseeable future.