Going in on GarPax at the Trade Deadline

Going in on GarPax at the Trade Deadline

Another trade deadline has come and gone, and the Bulls have solved exactly zero of their problems. Capping off the day with a bow out to Cleveland, the Bulls are just a single game above .500, hanging barely onto the the eighth seed. The season has been spiraling out of control since their 6-game win streak ended in early January. Since that point, they’re 5-14, with wins coming against the Sixers, Lakers and Kings.

Things are not going as planned, and a trade deadline move felt near necessary. Woj gave us hope, only to take it away as the Bulls lost out on a chance to fleece the Kings. 


The lost Gasol deal

The Bulls had talks to do something substantial. As reported by The Vertical, Gar Forman and John Paxson were prepared to move Gasol and Tony Snell for Ben McLemore, Kosta Koufos and a lowering of the protection on the pick the Kings already owe the Bulls, presently top-10 protected. It seemed too good to be true. Turns out, it was. Unfortunately so, because the Bulls would have come out with a young, athletic two-guard in McLemore, who has been buried in George Karl’s roster despite his raw upside, and Koufos, a solid, 27-year old center on what will be a reasonable deal in an exploding cap. Importantly, the Bulls could have ensured themselves the Kings pick, which is looking more and more like it won’t convey as the Kings are falling into a suboptimal position themselves.

GarPax had Kings management bent over a barrel. They were desperate to add a veteran leader, and a quality player to take them to the Playoffs as they prepare to move into their new arena, clamoring for the chance to start anew on better terms. Inexplicably, they were also enamored with Snell. The Bulls were never going to find a team that overvalued Gasol and Snell, the way the Kings did. They had the chance to get younger and better long term, while solidifying their draft stock without losing too much ground in the short term.

Of course, the stipulation, and speculated breaking point in the deal, was the fact that the Kings owed their pick to the 76ers if it was not conveyed to the Bulls. For the Kings to be able to make this deal work, they would have needed to incorporate Philadelphia into the mix, giving them a sweetener that would allow the Bulls to get the pick, even if it fell into the top-10.

Why would the 76ers help the Kings get better when they had swap-rights? They wouldn’t. Unless of course, they get some value in return. Regardless of whether or not this is the reason the trade fell through, it’s not the end of the world to hold off on the deal under these circumstances. The pick is an important part of the deal. But by all accounts, it was GarPax who wavered.

Obviously, making a trade is incredibly challenging. Letting go of a valuable player is hard to do and it isn't easy to find an exchange that leaves both parties feeling that they got something they wanted. It’s what held them up that is concerning. But the Kings seemed determined to make something work, and the Bulls should have found a way to capitalize on their dysfunction.

Instead, in classic GarPax fashion, they overvalued their guy, in an act that perpetuates their increasingly egregious mandate that the roster can win, as is.

Keeping Gasol

I’ve never heard a bad thing about Pau Gasol the person. For his scoring ability, championship experience, leadership and character, he is valuable to the Bulls. But, whatever promise or expectation he had with management to sign in Chicago in the first place, has strong-armed Coach Hoiberg into limited control over his lineups. He is in a position of too much power, and it hurts the team.

Losing out on Gasol now might ensure that the Bulls miss the Playoffs for the first time in 7 years - a pill that inevitably became too tough for GarPax to swallow. But the Bulls are headed down rather than up, even with Gasol on the roster. And the Hornets, Pistons, Wizards and Magic all made significant upgrades to actively chase playoff spots.

Even with Chris Bosh’s uncertainty after sustaining another set of blood clot issues, there are 5 teams vying for 2 spots (assuming the Pacers and Hornets are safe). At this state, with Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic out for extended periods of time and Noah done for the season, the Bulls haven’t been able to keep up.

The Front Office wasn’t in a position to do nothing. Fading quickly out of the Playoff picture, the flaws in the Bulls roster have been exposed. Be it lack of shooting, depth, defense, ball moving ability or a locker room that enjoys playing together, the Bulls had a real chance to make a change. Instead, they dealt Kirk Hinrich in a last second “Hey look guys, we did something!” move for Justin Holiday and a 2nd round pick, which will likely end up in the late 40s or early 50s. In reality, they lowered their luxury tax bill.

As an aside, Holiday is a nice player. The 26-year old, older brother of former 76ers All-Star and current New Orleans Pelicans guard, Jrue Holiday, he might eventually have a chance to contribute. But hasn’t done much to this point in his career.

That doesn’t save this season or set the Bulls up for the future. It effectively perpetuates the “we have more than enough to win” mentality.


What it means for free agency this summer

The scariest possible outcome may come to fruition, now, as keeping Gasol on the roster for the remainder of the season only increases the probability of the Bulls making an unbearably ill-informed decision to bring him back on a new contract.

"We see him as a big piece of what we're doing today and in the future," was the quote Forman gave ESPN.com after the no-trade.

Regardless of this statements honesty, the fact that it's out there is terrifying. Making Gasol a priority for the future is criminal. To do so, they would have to use precious cap space to sign him, because Gasol the Bulls don't have his full Bird Rights. This would hamper the Bulls ability to sign other free-agents and keep them securely on their sisyphean path of mediocrity.


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  • Why on earth would they resign Gasol? Don't get me wrong, he's one of the most skilled bigs in today's NBA, but he's getting up there and totally does not fit this system. Philly probably wanted Portis or something more, like a Portis + a future pick. Who knows.

    Would have loved to get the 7 or 8 pick from Sactown and rebuild around a smaller, younger, more versatile lineup of Rose (potentially), Butler, Portis, Mirotic and McBuckets and a top rookie.

    Now, it looks like the only way to get a top rookie is to keep sucking enough to miss the playoffs. Looks like they just might accomplish this feat.

    I think GarPax needs to give Hoiberg a chance and get players around him that will fit his system. Play faster. Get younger. Get more shooters. Get more two ways players. Easier said that done. It could take time, but worth a shot.

  • I'd have been more happy.. than I am right now... if they'd have traded Gasol for A DAMN CARCASS. It is beyond my comprehension why they can't see that Butler, Noah, and Mirotic's injuries pose an opportunity to get as far down the standings, and as high up the lottery as possible. I nearly swerved into oncoming traffic listening to Gar's interview with David Schuster on 670AM yesterday. I can deal with GM's lying through their teeth to the public, but only when it's to throw off or hide a smart plan... and THIS AINT THAT. I've never been so disgusted as a Bulls fan than I am today. Just to raise my blood pressure higher than it already was, Forman had to throw in a "we've been ravaged by injuries, that's not me making an excuse..ok.. that's just a fact". K:J:AKHGDHGDKG

    Gar Forman, you freakin child. Most excuses are rooted in fact, the whole point is you shut your mouth and plow forward without bringing things up like "we've been injured" right after you repeatedly stated "we hold everyone accountable, including the front office". What you did there, IS THE DEFINITION OF MAKING AN EXCUSE you twit. What you did there, IS THE DEFINITION OF NOT HOLDING YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. Not to mention the reports of you going around college campuses and making it clear you had nothing to do with certain past moves. Accountability? Get the hell out of here.. no seriously, LEAVE.

  • There are 8 ways to Sunday to look at the Bulls woeful situation. But what it came down to was that Gar Forman is in survival mode to keep his job. Trading Gasol would have meant the Bulls missing the playoffs. There is no way he could have his hand-picked boy who he insanely signed to a 5-year deal come under scrutiny for not making the playoffs, particularly still being under the shadow of Thibs. So fans be damned and f*ck the future. All Forman cares about is bullshitting his way through another year of keeping his job.

    Not making the Sacramento deal was insane. The Bulls can quite possibly still miss the playoffs. Even if they don't it will be a quick one and done. They will then have two nightmare scenarios: Gasol leaves and the Bulls get nothing or, worse yet, the Bulls blow all of next year's cap money on an old Spaniard thus continuing the death spiral.

    And I would have made the Kings trade just to get rid of Tony Snell.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    It was absolutely insane to not take advantage of Sacto's desperation, just ask Rahm Emanual. You might be right that saving face for Hoiberg might have been a big motivating factor in not making the trade,

    As for the effect on Philly by changing the draft protection, what it they had extended the length of the first round pick but lowered the protection in the out years, after next year(2017) when the pick converts to a second rounder. That would still have had value to the Bulls and might not have affected anybody else, just delayed the value to the Bulls.

    Getting rid of Snell, and getting McClemore and a serviceable center in Koufos would have been a steal for an already out the door Gulliver.

  • so I make a comment and it still isn't up 2 hours later? This blog is going to suffer quite a bit due to this, just figured I'd let you know as a long time reader(since 2010).

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    Thanks for the feedback. I believe this should be rectified now. If not, please let us know.

  • It appears like it would have been a gutsy move to just do the trade as 2 players for 2 players. While I can see the reluctance the FO had, they were getting 2 players with the potential to develop and contribute for the next 6 years or so.

    It was a roll of the dice, however. The question is, was it a moneyball shot? That is, fairly low risk, moderately high potential? I feel like it was, but who really knows?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Apparently, 28 other teams agreed with GarPax that McLemore and Koufas weren't worth a whole lot... let alone worth a guy who has been an All-Star the last 2 seasons.

    Or look at it this way - what would you rather have this summer, Koufas and McLemore, or $10 million in cap space?

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    That logic doesn't apply. Who's to say that Koufos & McLemore were available to 28 other NBA teams?

  • In reply to Mark Karantzoulis:

    Either they were available to be acquired in a trade, or they weren't.

    Or were they trying to do whatever they could to only give them to the Bulls?

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Well, yeah, in reality, it doesn't work that way, but ok.

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Even his wildest supporters would have to acknowledge that as a replacement player, he was truly a fake all star this season.

    Doesn't about half the NFL get to call themselves a pro bowler simply because everybody opts out of playing and they keep naming 12 stringers to replace them.

    Interesting that in his first 13 seasons, he was only good enough to be an all star 4 times, but with the Bulls he's 2 for 2, so who's benefitting more from the relationship.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    This was nothing like the NFL, one player was injured and replaced on the East team.

    When the reserves were announced, NBA analysts (I mean the neutral ones) were almost unanimous that Gasol was the biggest snub.

    And I'd say the Bulls are benefiting quite a bit from the relationship, they've had an All-Star caliber player on the roster for the last 2 seasons, for not much more than the MLE.

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Yes, Gasol is easily one of the most skilled bigs in the league.

    The question becomes, how much $$ will he want this summer and how many years considering his advanced age?

    They are not winning with him, so maybe both sides need to split.

    Maybe Bulls aren't utilizing him to his fullest? I don't know what the problem is with this team, but the DNA is just bad.

    I did see the Bulls run some aspects of Hoiberg's offense last night against the Lakers, which is nice. Nice to see the ball hopping from player-to-player. I'd like to see more of that and more up tempo.

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Bullsville,you are stating the obvious. That's why the Pau haters on this board are truly delusional. People who have an agenda cannot accept facts and resort to conspiracy theories to keep their world from falling part. Consider this from Ricky O'Donnell at Blog-Bull on 2/19:

    "It's no wonder Gasol wants to stay in Chicago when Forman and Paxson give him more authority than the head coach."

    Read this quote again slowly. This guy has no relationship with reality. His entire world view is invested in the theory that Gasol is the major problem with the team, notwithstanding his contributions and all-star recognition. People who read this garbage and agree need to re-examine their critical thinking skills.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I'm only half-joking when I say that Gasol is probably the major reason I had to start writing again, there has to be at least one blog on the internet that doesn't believe he is, in reality, Satan come to the surface.


  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Well, this summer $10 million likely doesn't even buy you Koufos and McLemore. Obviously, that is why the Bulls apparently held out for the enhancement of the draft pick, as it is fairly certain now that it will not be in the money as is. In fact I could still see 2-3 team passing Sacto from behind, starting with the Pelly's, then maybe the Bucks or Nuggets.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BigWay, Would you have made the trade without the draft pick enhancement? I felt it was a good shot, two younger guys with some potential, but it was still a throw of the dice.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    BigWay would trade Gasol for nothing but a 3rd-round draft pick.

    The thing is, I'd rather have Gasol for the next year or two than Koufas or McLemore, who aren't starting level players on a lottery team. Even if Gasol walks this summer, I'd rather play Portis at C than Koufas, and I'd rather play Moore at SG than McLemore.

    And I'm stating the obvious when I say that neither McLemore or Koufas fill a need for the Bulls, which is back-up PG and wing depth (though we really only need to replace MDJ once he's too old to contribute, we are fine with Butler/Moore/McDoug but will need another one soon enough).

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    I thought they got rid of the 3rd round, but what do I know. Oh wait, you're being sarcastic, or perhaps ironic, but certainly contrarian.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Maybe sarcastic or ironic, but certainly not contrarian.

    I was saying that you'd gladly give away Gasol for nothing (yes, there's no 3rd round any more) which I apologize if I was wrong.

  • In reply to Bullsville:

    Well, Portis isn't a center and certainly not a starting one, his D is currently Mc(WNBA)Athlete bad and clueless. Maybe you should check out some video on Kosta Koufos, I hear he is a much better player than this Koufas guy. That guy is averaging a double double on a per 36 basis, just like Gulliver, shoots 53% from the field, which I still think is better than 47%, is 9 years younger which means he might do more than observe and/or escort the pick and roll and will at least occasionally block somebody out on the defensive boards. Also that guy is locked in for 3 more years at just about current Gulliver money, or about half of what some people think that Gulliver will seek this summer.

    Again for a team going nowhere, this year or next(or for as long as Gulliver remains on the roster), this seemed like a no brainer vs turning Gulliver into the new vastly more expensive hangdog, which will be our greatest fear all summer. But if you don't believe me, just check out BAB, it has to be 99-1 against(Gulliver) over there. Everybody in the basketball world can't really be wrong, except of course for 2 guys, certainly no statistician worth his abacus would ever suggest that.

    It will be very interesting to see what $10 million in cap space actually buys you this summer, probably someone like Lou Williams or Jody Meeks, that LA and Detroit signed last summer for $6 million or so, or maybe Aaron Afflalo, or OJ Mayo, or even Gerald Henderson. Frankly, as I've said before, this is the summer for smart teams to keep their powder dry waiting for the much better FA class of 2017.

    The Bulls will need at least one center on the roster next year, for at least one year, will either Gulliver or Noah come back for only one year, maybe an injured and depleted Noah might, Gulliver and his humongous ego certainly won't, just ask Kobe, it would be an unforgivable insult, if even entertaining a trade with Sacto already wasn't too unforgivable and insulting.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BAB isn't "everyone in the basketball world", like I said actual NBA coaches think Gasol is the 8th-best player in the East who wasn't voted an All-Star starter. I think their opinion is 100x more valuable than some wanna-be media member who doesn't really know the game any better than average fans.

    And a bunch of fans and other wanna-be media members (or guys who are trying to make money, so they are posting stuff that they know Joe Fan will agree with, which gives more page views, which brings more money).

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want the Bulls to give Gasol a shitload of money this summer. But the tidal wave of fans and bloggers who think he sucks is just comical, and not even close to being shared by people who actually work in the league and earn a living doing so, be they coaches, front office personnel, or analysts.

    And it's funny how you mention Portis' lack of defense... HE'S A ROOKIE. Of course he doesn't defend like a 5 or 10 year veteran, HE'S A ROOKIE. He'll get better. I'm sure you were much better at your job after a few years than you were after a few months, right?

    But Bulls fans seem to love to do this with rookies, hell this very blog was full of people who thought Butler sucked and couldn't be a SG not all that long ago.

    I think that's why they wanted this Gasol trade to go down, so the Bulls could miss the playoffs and have two lottery picks they could bitch about for 3-4 years until they were playing at a veteran level.

    Rookies are going to play like rookies, again actual NBA people know this.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    BAB hates everyone on the Bulls and everyone ever affiliated with the team with the possible exception of MJ.

  • What is this with your site administrator having to approve commments all the time? Do you want fans to comment here or not?

  • GarPax need to go. They are clueless and taking the Bulls year after year closer to irrelevance since 2012. Why would you want to keep Gasol when every other smart and rising teams are going for speed and away from traditional centers? Why do you want to keep a 35 years old just to barely make the playoffs? At this point, I am hoping the Bulls tank and with that, GarPax are fired. New management with a bit more of brain can bring us a solid wing and free agent to make this team back to relevance. This is beyond my understand why teams like Cavs, being a clear best team in the East is smart to even make trades to get even better, whereas the Bulls, who is clear nose diving do nothing but moves to clear the cap space. And what is more annoying is that the Bulls is considered a big market and Cavs not. Bulls owner, please consider changing management!

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I guess they are going to dump the salaries and hope they can grab a great FA in the summer of 2017 - or if not, several good FAs. Might work. Would have a much better shot if M and M were doing something.

  • "Jason Patt ‎@Bulls_Jay
    Since the calendar turned to 2016, only the Suns, Lakers and Nets have a worse net rating than the Bulls. Think about that."

    Isn't that just about the time that Noah started getting injured?

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