Gar Forman, conservative, considering options

So says the cryptic SportsUnplugged Twitter:

Source: Forman is
exploring all avenues before 2010. He wants to put the right guys
around Derrick Rose; one source says he's cautious.

While I'm not sure I even trust them enough to believe a source saying something obvious, it begs the question, is now the time to be conservative or aggressive? The Bulls won the lottery, literally and figuratively, when acquiring Derrick Rose. Yesterday, I discussed at great length the type of fit each player on the existing roster has next to him.   What do the Bulls do to bring in the type of players to compete long term?

The goal is to win a championship, and Bulls fans, I hate to break it to you, but the odds of this happening are very poor indeed.    The odds of winning a title in basketball are always terrible unless you get one of the super elite players and have a good cast around him, the teams that manage that can typically rip off two or three titles in a row and dominate the league for awhile. 

The Bulls presently have neither of those parts.   We have hopes that Rose becomes the star, but it's not nearly as likely as most Bulls fans think it is.   We have an owner who's always been reluctant to spend big on the team who'd need to sign off on paying the luxury tax for the cast as well.  Even if willing to spend, it will require tremendous luck to be able to find the right deals to bring the players on..

So Gar Forman is presently being conservative.    That's a fair plan.   Many of our decisions could lock us into one path with Derrick Rose.   Once we fill the team with big salaries we won't have flexibility to change things up anymore.    Conservative is a good call for this season.    There's unlikely to be anyone available long term that makes a difference for us down the road.

The attitude will shift next season with the 2010 free agency class, however, my question is should it?    LeBron James is the only free agent available next year that I'm convinced will be worth his max contract with a declining NBA salary cap.   I think the Bulls will go hard after other players, and they probably should.   When the NBA salary cap falls to 45 million, Chris Bosh is going to look terrible on a 20 millino dollar contract.

At the same time, what are the alternatives?    Wait and hope something comes up later?   The Bulls could pursue LeBron hard from the open, but they seem like merely a so-so candidate to land him as there are several spots which may prove more desirable.   After that, there is enormous risk in adding Bosh, Wade, or Amare at a max deal in a shrinking salary environment.

Better deals may exist in a year or two.   Teams that overextended themselves and can't survive the dropping revenues will look to dump salary.   Good players will be swapped for expiring contracts at an unprecedented rate, however, there's also a huge risk that the Bulls won't ever land someone as good as they could right now by waiting.

This is a difficult era to play armchair GM in.   The solutions that look attractive on paper today have a high probability of completely handicapping the team tomorrow.   Yet  if the Bulls play too conservative after losing Ben Gordon to save for 2010 then the fan base may revolt after being lied to.  

There's probably no tougher time to be GM than right now.  The perception of the Bulls position is much stronger than it actually is.   The expecations for the future are much higher than what's realistic.   The armchair GMs, including myself, will be second guessing every move.    Good luck Gar, you're going to need it.


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  • Doug...thanks for the morning thought provoker.

    What do you think "conservative" means...not paying max for "pretenders" like Bosh or injury risk guys like Amare? I really don't call that conservative, I call it smart.

  • Is Gar Forman conservative?

    Don't know, don't care (but always enjoy your articles).

    What does interest me is whether or not Jerry Reinsdorf is conservative.

    Reinsdorf recently committed to millions of dollars of salary for Jake Peavey for his White Sox. And yet we constantly hear the Chicago Bulls complaining about the luxury tax. Also, isn't Reinsdorf trying to acquire a hockey team?

    Is Reinsdorf conservative with money? Well, as a past tax accountant for the IRS he should know more than 99% of us about the use of money, profits/losses, and taxation.

    Is Gar Forman conservative in building a team and using Reinsdorf's money? Only Reinsdorf and Forman have the answer.

  • First some definitions: Superstar = LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Paul, Howard, Duncan, Garnett, and IMO Billups; these players earn max contracts.
    2nd tier (not quite as good) is All-Star = Dirk, Bosh, Amare, Roy, Nash, Carmelo, etc., these are players that are deserving of being in the All-Star game, may not make it every year but they are considered every year. Should be paid in the $12-14 mill range.
    3rd tier is Star = usually one of the 2, 3 or 4 best players on each team. These are usually the players you want to keep on your team, when you are talking about trading to get a player from another team. Should usually be paid anywhere in the $8-12 mill range. Having said that, I would pay Wade for a max contract but not Bosh or Amare.
    But, I think the Bulls need to be conservatively very agressive. As an example, trading Kirk and Luol for Boozer (an expiring contract). This is an agressive move. It allows the Bulls to "try this on for size" as they can have Boozer, see how he plays with Rose, decide if he or a player like him fits well with Rose and they are not committed to him long term. If he fits well and the BUlls like him, they can then commit to a long term offer. If not then financially, they can save long term money, such that they have less of a committment/less hit against the cap in following years. If they decide they don't like Boozer they don't even have to keep him for the full season, they can trade him and "try someone else on for size". I realize too much trading can become a problem, but I believe the Bulls need to be agressive in this way until they find a combination that works well with Rose.

  • I don't really like this conservative train of thought. I really don't like anyone on our team long term except for Rose and maybe Noah and Johnson. Everyone else to me is really a hindrance except for Salmons for his remaining contract. I really would love to see us blow it up and suck it up for a year and maybe get a high lotto pick. I just don't see the potential or current talent on this team as is to be anything more than a perineal first round exit.

  • Sorry, my mistake, Doug, you are right. I was using an old figure of about $15 mill for a max contract. It is far better to say that those players should make about 80 - 95% of a max contract amount.

  • I think you misunderstood me, I was trying to say we shouldn't go conservative and go and blow it up except for rose. I just don't see Kirk and Deng as long term pieces that will lead us anywhere but instead hinder us from getting better players because of their large salaries and mediocrity.

  • I think there's four guys to go after in Bosh, Wade, Amare and Lebron. Of those, I think it may be realistic to consider Wade--who's Heat might struggle to make the playoffs--or Amare--who has a lot of question marks health wise and with the Suns. Of those two, oyr best chance appears to be Wade. And, I'd say the chances of getting him are not very high.

    So, given that our best chance appears to be Wade and Wade is a SG, maybe we ought to trade Salmons for a guy like Nick Young and Foye (expiring)? That cuts 2010 money and gets us a young SG on a rookie contract for a couple more years just in case Wade doesn't come. For the Wiz, it consolidates talent and gives them a guy who can help them win now--which is the position I think they're in now.

  • I don't think Rose, Salmons, Noah will fare to well at all. I can't see more than 30 wins tops with that group.

  • I just don't see 2010 working out for us as intended. These guys will either stay with their teams or team up in places like Miami, NY or Cleveland. Why would someone like Wade want to leave Miami with plenty of cap space and MB and Chalmers for us with Rose and no cap space? It just doesn't seem all that likely to me.

  • I just don't see us getting anywhere with this group. Rose and maybe Noah are our only above average players and most of the stars will either stay where they are or team up. We are clearly neither. The only chance we really have is to wildly exceed expectations and make a serious playoff run.

  • I disagree, I would rather have Wade, MB, Chalmers and Bosh or Stat or Boozer than Rose, Wade, Kirk, deng and maybe a resigned noah.

  • Its really hard to tell but I see the big guys in Wade, Bron, Bosh all staying put. I can see the secondary guys moving around. Like Stat could join the cavs, boozer goes to miami and JJ comes here. It is just sooo rare for top 10 players to move around, espically when all of them will be in the playoffs next year.

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