Bulls financial-steward-for-life John Paxson has made some media rounds this week. Most of it was uneventful outside of some truly weird praise of Jim Boylen’s communication skills with the kids today (just don’t ask him to communicate well on TV), but this morning on 670 The Score he was directly asked about the possibility of trading for Russell Westbrook:
“There are teams that are going to take a real shot at someone like that.
When you look at the financial aspect of a player that’s 30 going out four years (on his contract) and the amount of money that’s going to be made, those things can tie your hands up and put your organization in a tough position.”
So there you go, if you were an ‘observer’ who assumes simply because the Bulls are technically an NBA team and surely all NBA teams would inquire on Westbrook that therefore the Bulls are inquiring on Russell Westbrook: nah.
Listen, I recognize it’s very on-brand to be upset that the Bulls aren’t pursuing something I’m not even sure I want them to do. But the lack of curiosity and motivation by them is what’s upsetting.
Instead they’re going with that tried-and-true “plan” of hording cap space every few years:
“You want the superstars. You want to do what the Clippers are doing and the Lakers are doing, but we’re realistic right now. We’re not in that position. We hope that in a couple years with the development of these young guys, players around the league view us as a destination point where they can win at the highest level. I believe we’ll be there if our young guys perform the way we hope they will”
Paxson also mentioned “the injuries, which were difficult” around 47 times, but no mention of:
- Any responsibility (players they have, coaching style, training staff) to the injuries themselves, just random luck.
- Any responsibility for the lack of depth last season to make the injuries so devastating to the team.
Combining all of it, if you take this messaging on its face you can actually understand the message given what ‘stage’ they’re in. I’m not a huge fan of Westbrook, but he would possibly help the core improve (you’re theoretically swapping out LaVine for him) and is more likely to attract other stars than keeping the gang together with solid veteran additions. It’s at least a debate whether Westbrook in particular is the right guy to do this.
But the overall message is not about that. You’d think that past few offseasons after patting themselves on the back over not ‘overspending’ in 2016 while other teams acquired stars even with those limitations that they’d stop pushing that canard. The latest 20xx plan is not cap space related, it’s about keeping payroll low because ‘worry’ over future extensions to that core (which you can sign over the cap).
And though I could take the message on its face of not pursuing Westbrook because you want to more be the Nets or Clippers of last season where you’re “an intriguing young team on the rise”, there should be some culpability as to whey you’re not there already.
Nothing said today was all that offensive, but it’d be much better received if this was given by John Paxson’s replacement.