AKME Versus the Ghost of Jerry Krause

It’s pretty safe to say that Jerry Krause was the best general manager in the history of Chicago Sports. No Chicago team won more games under a General Manager than the Jordan Bulls. Knowing this sorta makes me sick. As a Chicago sports fan, I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a preteen and teenager during that Bulls run for anything. Knowing that Krause was the chief architect and the head of destruction for that team is incredibly frustrating to say the least. Krause was notoriously insecure and that insecurity coupled with Jordan,Pippen, and Jackson’s ego’s were the drivers for the dismantling of the Bulls’ dynasty.

Krause’s resume once he took over was as impressive as what the Spurs did in the 2000’s or what the Golden State Warriors have done over the last 10-13 years.

Scottie Pippen is a hall of famer. Horace Grant was the perfect third wheel as a versatile defender and effective/ efficient offensive player. Bj Armstrong, Craig Hodges,Stacy King, Will Perdue, Bill Cartwright were all relatively simple moves, but they made perfect sense for that first championship run.

Toni Kukuc was arguably his second best draft pick after Scottie. [Yes, he traded for Scottie on draft day.] Toni was a truly special talent, and he was the perfect glue guy for the second unit. Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, and Luke Longley were also perfect for an NBA transitioning to three point shooting as well as long point guards and shooting big men.

Rodman was an incredible risk, but it showed how Krause’s mind worked. MJ, Scottie, and Toni were going to be the primary scorers and drive offensive production. Rodman was elite at two things. Rebounding and defense. They could switch 1-4 on the starting lineup with Harper, Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman. That’s a relatively modern concept, but Krause was ahead of his time.

Krause’s insistence on using Tex Winter’s triangle offense was also cutting edge especially considering that they used Jordan as their primary post player with Scottie as the point guard. That spacing and cutting offense made it easy to bring in players like Paxson, Armstrong, and Kerr to provide spacing while also having the two best perimeter defenders on the floor every game.

Even in the early 2000s, Krause was still looking at ways to keep up with the times. Krause was very lucky in the post Jordan era, but the ill will he had with the new NBA along with the fact that he lost out on the Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Tim Duncan off season signaled the start of the ending of his era. Elton Brand was a solid pick along with Ron Artest, Jamal Crawford and Jay Williams. The trade for Jalen Rose was a mostly wise decision although in retrospect, I would have rather kept Artest. Trading Elton Brand to the Clippers, drafting Tyson Chandler, and drafting Eddy Curry was a pretty intense pivot and quite frankly it was desperate and weird. Jay Williams’ motorcycle accident was the exclamation point on the crash landing of his tenure as a general manager.

Paxson and Gar Forman were disciples of Krause, but I’ve always believed that Paxson was more talented than Foreman and his decision to hand over the reins to Forman was his greatest mistake. Paxson’s "Baby Bulls" along with the DRose Bulls were well built teams. They fought hard and they were competitive most seasons, but Foreman ruined any goodwill Paxson built with the modern players leading up to the Rose era. Forman was as petty as Krause and had a terrible eye for talent. He was awful at team building. After Rose and Noah were traded to the Knicks, everyone knew that GARPAX was a disaster. The "Three Alpha’s" made no real sense compared to what they said just weeks prior to signing Wade and Rondo. Trading Jimmy was dumb. They missed on every major decision they made in the wake of that trade. If there is a silver lining, it’s Zach LaVine evolution into an allstar. He was the best of the Timberwolves young core. We didn’t know that at the time, but getting Zach back in that trade was the only consolation of that dying regime’s porus decision making.

Krause decision making still stands out as the gold standard for team construction within the four walls of that building.

When I think about AKME, I think of an executive team that is polar opposite to Krause and GARPAX. Arturas Karnisovas is smart and stoic. He practices mixed martial arts. He hooped, and to a certain extent, he idolized the 90s Bulls. You could sense his endearing feelings for the team when he was introducing Marc Eversley. He was watching The Last Dance, and he couldn’t temper his enthusiasm when watching the journey of the late 90’s Bulls and called Eversley a night early to extend an offer for the general manager position. He strikes me as the type of person who doesn’t need any external approval to go about his job, but he’s also not so oblivious to what the fans and modern players want that he pisses fans off or turns away players that are confident and looking for real partnership.

AK’s an excellent decision maker, and his first win was hiring Marc Eversley. Eversley is also relatively stoic. He gets the modern player. He’s humble, but you can tell relationships are everything to him. He has extremely close relationships with his former players to include but not limited to Vince Carter and Demar DeRozan. Paxson loved the Hinrich’s, Noah’s and Taj Gipson’s because they were compliant. Eversley isn’t looking for compliance. He’s looking for partners.

AKME’s resume in the last 15 months is so impressive that I think Eversley will get an EVP job within the next three to five years.

Here’s a run down of their highlights:

  • Fire Foreman

  • Fire Boylen

  • Hire Billy Donovan

  • Draft Pat Williams

  • Exercise patience when everyone wanted them to make a big splash without truly evaluating the team

  • Trade Wendell Carter Jr. for Nikola Vucevic

  • Bring in Troy Brown Jr., a top 20 pick from three years ago with a high floor that should fill the prototypical 3-D role off the bench

  • Sign Lonzo Ball

  • Sign DeRozan

  • Sign Caruso

  • Replace Gafford with Bradley.

  • Move Williams to his natural position at the 4.

  • Move Coby to his optimal role as a 6th man combo guard

  • Trade Lauri Markkanen for Derick Jones Jr.

  • Recoup 2 picks for Lauri

  • Sign underrated Alize Johnson

  • Transition to a modern game with small ball 4’s

  • Build a team around Zach LaVine that LaVine loves to play with

  • Restore hope to the Bulls fan base

  • Make off-season basketball fun in Chicago

That’s a lot to process

One overwhelming trait that Krause had was a penchant for making bold moves. He was right a lot. He was also petty, obsessive, and desperate. However, if there is one thing we have come to love about AKME, it’s that they are bold as hell. They may be wrong. We don’t know yet. What we do know is that they are not afraid to forge a new path with bold and calculated moves that make sense to most Chicago Bulls die-hards while also exciting the passive fans. I truly hope that we not only see a resurgence of the beloved’s competitiveness, but also a return to the national stage as a title contender!

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