NBA analysts have tossed out mixed opinions on the Bulls dealing star guard Jimmy Butler on draft night for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a pick swap. But for some Bulls fans, trading Butler to Minnesota for not a whole lot in return is the last straw. A group Chicagoans are pissed off to the point of starting a GoFundMe to buy a billboard calling for the firing of the duo known as GarPax: general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson. They’re throwing in owner Jerry Reinsdorf as well for good measure.
Here’s how this new movement is describing itself:
The r/ChicagoBulls community now has a new mission…
It’s time to raise our pitchforks everyone. Reinsdorf and GarPax have made the Bulls the laughing stock of the NBA for far too long.
This past NBA draft is the final straw. Not only did we trade Jimmy Butler for a value equivalent to a Diet Sprite and a Snickers bar, but we traded away one of the best defensive talents in the 2nd round for… cash??? Yes the Reinsdorf and GarPax figured the best idea to go about a rebuild is to sell our draft picks for cash…
Maybe some of you forgot, but let’s not forget what GarPax and Reinsdorf have previously done… not only did they trade Jimmy Butler for a mystery box… they have had horrific drafts from 2012-2014, drove away Coach Thibs who regularly made us threats in the East, but also brought in Fred Hoiberg who has no business in the NBA.
They’re shooting for $15,000, and they surpassed 10 percent of their goal within a few hours. Not too bad.
These fans aren’t the only ones calling out GarPax. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons was baffled by the Butler trade and expressed his opinion on Twitter.
Bulls gave away their best player for 50 cents on the dollar, then sold pick 38 for 3.5m. They play in 3rd biggest US city and act like OKC.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 23, 2017
After the trade went through on Thursday night, Butler’s trainer said in a since-deleted tweet:
“0-82. Worst culture in the league. I met drug dealers with better morals than their GM. He is a liar and everyone knows.”
Butler departed Chicago with more diplomacy, sidestepping a question about his trainer’s tweet and then thanking Chicago on Instagram.
Jimmy Butler with good answer on his trainer's Tweet disparaging Gar Forman pic.twitter.com/ExDd9oF3Uy
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 23, 2017
Chicago, What can I say?! I truly struggle with the words because you've been so much more than just my home for the last 6 years, you've been my life! You've embraced me like a son and pushed me to get better every day, every season. I can honestly say that I have always been incredibly motivated to succeed; it's just the way I'm built. But I know I owe so much to the person I am now, and to the player that I've become, to you. You always pushed me to never give anything less than my absolute best night in, night out. That's what you expected. That's what you deserved. And, I hope you know that's what I dedicated my life to every time I walked into the facility or stepped on the floor of the United Center. Thank you to the entire Bulls organization and Reinsdorf Family for taking a chance on me in 2011 and for giving me the opportunity to play the sport I love for such a great franchise. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was drafted and when I played my first minutes. It's an experience that I wouldn't have wanted with any other team and I'm so thankful to you for giving me that opportunity. Chicago, I love you. Thanks for embracing a kid from Tomball like one of your own. On to a new home and a new organization. Thankfully, with some familiar faces! PS… AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT! THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY BEHIND THE ORGANIZATION THAT DO NOT GET THE SHINE THAT THEY DESERVE!! YALL ARE THE REAL ALL-STARS!! – Jimmy G. Buckets (@staceyking21 )
Still, Butler shared his disappointment in how the Bulls front office handled the trade. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
“It’s crazy because it reminds you of what a business this is. You can’t get mad at anybody. I’m not mad, I’m not. I just don’t like the way some things were handled, but it’s OK.’’
The Bulls were calling the move a rebuild, but there are strong indications that this was a front office that also didn’t want to have to eventually pay Butler nearly $246 million had he qualified for the super-max extension.
Butler didn’t want to get into that, only saying, “I gave all to that city and to that team. I can’t say I didn’t do that. But what can they say? That I wasn’t a good enough player? I don’t know what you can call this.’’
At least the Bulls have a direction now, in theory, as they rebuild with a young team. But man, it’s rarely a good sign when fans start turning on their front office like this.