Chicago Bulls: The 3 Worst Moves of the GarPax Era
And man, is their front office getting roasted.
The experts are shocked.
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS THE BULLS TRADED BUTLER
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 23, 2017
The fans are horrified.
Bulls really just traded Jimmy Butler. Why do all my favorite teams have garbage front offices
— Coquito Papí (@FuckitImGab) June 22, 2017
And the memes are flying.
jimmy butler wolves bulls fans bring back mj crying meme pic.twitter.com/I8t0D5136D
— jayson judeman (@kingjaylamothe) June 23, 2017
But should anybody be surprised that Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman -- known collectively as GarPax -- would sign off on a trade that, according to numberFire's Russell Peddle, doesn't look so hot?
Not so much.
The Paxson regime was installed in 2003, when the journeyman shooting guard was promoted from Bulls radio color man to VP of Basketball Ops. Forman was named to his current post six seasons later, after having spent the previous 11 years with the Chicago organization.
With GarPax steering the ship, the Bulls have had their highs (drafting Derrick Rose in 2009, a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011) and their lows (Paxson's attempt to choke former coach Vinny Del Negro, the embarrassingly public spat with former coach Tom Thibodeau). But in spite of canny draft picks such as Butler, Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson, GarPax will be remembered for the moves that didn't pan out.
Here are the three transactions that Bulls fans will likely never forgive, and definitely never forget.
June 28, 2006: Bulls Trade LaMarcus Aldridge to Portland for Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa
Yeah, this was before Forman entered the picture, but knowing what we know about simpatico the relationship between the GM and the VP, Paxson would've probably talked him into this mess.
In his lone year at LSU, Thomas proved himself to be an athletic freak who could score (19.1 points per 40 minutes) and play some defense (3.1 blocks a night, tops in the NCAA in 2005-06).
Aldridge's averages during his two seasons at the University of Texas were solid across the board: We're talking 13.5 points, 8.2 boards, 1.8 blocks, and 1.3 steals. His only baggage was a rep for being soft.
That was enough baggage for Paxson, who chose Aldridge with the Bulls second pick, then, minutes later, sent him off to the Great Northwest after the Blazers grabbed Thomas at number four.
It didn't go well.
|LaMarcus Aldridge: 2006- present||19.1||8.3||1.9||0.8||1.0||1.6||20.3|
|Tyrus Thomas: 2006-2015||7.7||4.8||0.5||0.8||1.3||1.3||14.8|
Not only did Aldridge trounce Thomas in the stats department, but in 2007, good ol' Tyrus delivered arguably the worst performance in the history of the Slam Dunk Contest.
July 12, 2012: Bulls Trade Kyle Korver to Atlanta for a Trade Exception and Cash Considerations
Between 2010-12, Chicago boasted the best regular season record in the NBA, with a 112-36 mark and a stellar winning percentage of .757. Much of their success was spurred by the play of their second unit, known collectively as the Bench Mob.
One of the top three-point shooters of his era, Kyle Korver was the Mob's instant offense microwave, and his per-36-minute numbers demonstrate he was exactly what you'd want from a third option. If nothing else, he performed better than what the Bulls received in return.
|Kyle Korver: CHI, 2010-2012||14.0||43.3%||42.5%||82.3%|
|Kyle Korver: ATL, 2012-2017||12.5||46.2%||45.2%||88.7%|
|Cash Considerations: 2012 - ?||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Trade Exception: 2012 - 13||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
It's possible that Cash Considerations will put up some numbers at some point down the line, and some say that Trade Exception -- which expired in 2013 -- once had a bit of game, but it looks like Atlanta won that trade. Handily.
June 26, 2014: Bulls Trade Two First-Round Draft Picks to Denver for Doug McDermott
Chicago came into the evening with a pair of first rounders in their back pocket at 16th and 19th overall. They were well aware that the apple of their eye, Creighton sharpshooter Doug McDermott, would be gone well before 16, so GarPax hopped on the phone with the Denver braintrust, and hammered out a deal that sent the Nuggets their two firsts, which they turned into shooting guard Gary Harris and center Jusuf Nurkic.
After a couple of rough years with the Nuggets, Denver shipped Nurkic to Portland in February, where he simply blossomed. In his 20 games with the Blazers, the so-called Bosnian Beast averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds, and if he can recover from the broken leg that forced him to miss the final month of the season, as well as the playoffs, the future is bright...so bright that the Bulls are likely still bummed out about how darn good he's become.
But for the sake of this deal, it makes better sense to compare Harris' numbers with McDermott's.
|Doug McDermott: CHI, 2014-17||8.0||0.7||2.3||39.3%||44.5%||0.2||2.4||10.6|
|Gary Harris: DEN, 2014 - present||10.5||1.8||2.5||42.0%||46.0%||1.1||10.7||12.9|
Harris for McDermott straight-up is a solid steal for Denver, but if you throw Nurkic into the mix, GarPax got flat-out fleeced.
It remains to be seen how the Butler trade will impact Paxson and Forman's legacy. Will LaVine and Dunn erase the memory of losing Aldridge, Korver, Harris, and Nurkic, or will saying goodbye to Jimmy G. Buckets haunt the Chicago Bulls franchise for a generation?
Considering GarPax's ignominious past, you'd have to lean towards the latter.