The Chicago Bulls have been mired in turmoil in recent years. They’ve gone through coaching changes, front office discord, roster turnover, and a fan base that is growing increasingly impatient as the losses keep piling up without much tangible progress to show for it.
There have long been cries for major changes to their embattled front-office duo of VP John Paxon and GM Gar Forman, and earlier this week, the team announced that they were embarking on a formal search for a new executive that would control over all basketball decisions, while transitioning Paxon and Forman to different roles.
That still leaves head coach Jim Boylen on the hot seat, as the incoming exec will ultimately have the final say on whether he keeps his job. Beyond that, they still have the issue of disgruntled players who are unhappy with their roles and/or Boylen’s coaching style. Lauri Markkanen is apparently chief among them, and if there aren’t significant changes, he could be looking for a ticket out.
And then there was the quiet storm, privately churning in the corner since early on in the season, keeping his frustrations as off-the-record one-liners, discrediting the direction of the offense, his role in it, and the highly embraced shot profile that Bulls analytics was stressing.
Make no mistake about it, third-year big man Lauri Markkanen was one unhappy camper before the coronavirus put the NBA on hiatus. Unhappy enough that if the direction of the organization was going to stay unchanged, he’d rather be elsewhere.
Markkanen had been sidelined for most of the previous season with an elbow injury, and his numbers were down all across the board before the league went on hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic. With Markkanen, though, it’s all a matter of how he’s being used.
Markkanen is a prototypical offensive forward for today’s game, and the Bulls will have to figure out a way to maximize his talent moving forward and unlock the potential that exists in a two-pronged attack that features Zach LaVine. But the new executive will also have the tall order of finding free agents to come in and bolster their roster.
With the worldwide lockdown, who knows how long it will be before any of this can play itself out, but the Bulls have plenty to keep themselves occupied as they look toward the future.