The Bulls went into this season with a roster largely unchanged from a 50-win campaign in 2015, but that’s likely to change in some form if John Paxson and Gar Forman are to be believed.
The Bulls’ Vice President of Basketball Operations (Paxson) and General Manager (Forman) said there are no untouchables and wouldn’t rule out a nuclear option of blowing up the team if the option is best, given their long run of consistent playoff appearances.
“Nuclear”, as in trading Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler in the offseason, neither would rule out, although it’s hard to tell whether it was rhetoric or if there was real weight behind those words.
“There's one untouchable guy I've ever been around, Michael Jordan,” Paxson said. “So that's how I've always looked at it.”
Butler is coming off a second All-Star appearance and next season will be the second year of a four-year maximum contract deal he signed last summer. Rose is entering the last season of a deal and will hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
When given the opportunity to boldly declare Butler as the untouchable piece, they left the door open to other ideas.
“I would say, I think John made it pretty clear we’ve got to take a look at everything,” Forman said. “We’ve got to explore all options and I don’t think there’s anything that’s off the table when you have a disappointing year like this. With that said, obviously Jimmy has had a fantastic year. From where he was to where he’s gotten to, he’s become a very, vey valuable player for us.”
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The Bulls entertained trade talks for Butler at the deadline, but nothing got too serious. It’s widely believed teams will come calling for Butler in the offseason but how serious will the Bulls take it is up for debate—as Wednesday could very well have been the brass using the media to send Butler a message about his standing in the franchise as he grows into a leader.
“Here’s how I feel about the whole leadership thing. When you’re talking too much about leadership you’re probably not getting what you need from the team leaders,” Paxson said. “And I always thought and I played with the greatest player in the game and you didn’t hear him talking about leadership. You heard him going out and showing leadership and showing that he was a winning player. I don’t think any of our guys need to talk about that anymore, about leadership, I think they need to show it.”