The narrative on the GarPax saga in Chicago has mainly been one that has left fans angered and confused. Gar Forman became general manager of the Chicago Bulls in 2009, brought on Tom Thibodeau in 2010 to lead an up and coming Bulls team, and won NBA Executive of the Year in 2011 for his work in building a roster that looked like perennial contenders. Ever since, it is safe to say Forman and Paxson’s decision making has been mediocre at best.

Let’s review some of their work. After losing to the Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, GarPax failed to improve the team to get the Bulls over the hurdle. Of course, no one saw the horrific ACL tear reigning MVP Derrick Rose had in the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the 76ers. The Bulls were quickly bounced out thereafter and were left with question marks for the following season. They built a roster led by a nucleus of Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich, and a young Jimmy Butler while Derrick Rose sat for the season. They were quickly knocked out in the first round again by the Wizards with the team looking overworked and injury-prone. They respond the next season by bringing in an aged Pau Gasol and a young Nikola Mirotic in hopes of sparking some firepower for an offensively-challenged team. Again, they fail to get over the hump and are eliminated by Lebron and the Cavs in 6.

They then, make a dramatic move at the beginning of the 2015 campaign, firing Tom Thibodeau, a move some Bulls fans still feel was the wrong move. They bring in Fred Hoiberg for a “last hoorah” with an aging and worn down core of Rose, Gasol, Noah, Buteler, Dunleavy, Gibson, and Mirotic. The Bulls fail to make the playoffs in what was one of the most disappointing seasons in Bulls history. The 2016 campaign was thought to be a much needed reset for the Bulls, instead they found themselves in what GarPax infamously dubbed a “re-tool” in bringing in free agents Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. The “Three Alphas” saga with Butler, Wade, and Rondo had its ups and downs, even taking the first two games in the playoffs against the top seed Celtics, but it was obvious this team had no championship aspirations. It’s safe to say the GarPax era after 2011 was soaked in mediocrity.

Fast forward to where we are now. Gar and Pax chose the rebuild path and as we look at this current Bulls organization, you can’t help but agree that the arrow is pointing up. A move that some say should have occurred a year earlier is now ready to bear fruit. There were fans who begged the Reinsdorfs to change leadership for this new direction. Credit to CEO Jerry Reinsdorf and his son Michael for sticking with the two men heavily scrutinized by the entire city. The Bulls trade Jimmy Butler for Lavine, Markkanen, and Dunn, they draft Wendell Carter Jr., and sign Chicago native Jabari Parker to form a young nucleus that Bulls fans are excited about.

How can we say this rebuild is a success? What have the Bulls won? They haven’t won anything or done anything. That’s a fact. But based on the moves they made, there is a measuring stick for this rebuild and it is up north in Minneapolis. The coach they fired and the superstar they traded away are up in Minnesota challenging the decisions GarPax made in Chicago. Thibodeau and Co. had a season to see what they could do, with KAT, Wiggins, Butler, and a re-constructed Derrick Rose. They were out of the playoffs before we could blink. Now, their coveted superstar has asked to be traded and is seemingly already out the door after meeting with Thibodeau in LA last week. So where does that leave Thibs and Minnesota? Thibs was able to lock in Karl-Anthony Towns to a max extension, but after him what do they really have?

We look at the Bulls, they have a young nucleus developing nicely under Coach Hoiberg. They have drafted well the past two years and still hold draft capital for the future. They have incoming cap space for the summer of 2019 and 2020 to bring in more talent. They also have the market that free agents covet in the big city of Chicago. So am I crazy to say that the Bulls under GarPax, after everything they have done, have a better chance to win a championship than Tom Thibodeau’s Minnesota Timberwolves? No, not at all. It’s time for Bulls fans to admit something they thought they’d never say. Gar Forman and John Paxson did a good job.

Photos via Daily Herald and the Associated Press

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