In a press release from the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, the organization announced they have replaced John Paxson with Gar Forman as general manager.
Paxson will reportedly remain with the franchise in an executive role.
Forman inherits an exciting mess from Paxson that requires a lot of work. There is a lot of talent, and even more questions on a team that gave the defending champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in the first round of this year's NBA playoffs.
The following are four of the important issues Forman will need to address quickly in his new role:
1. What to do with Ben Gordon
The nation saw what the mini-microwave could do as he put on multiple scoring displays in the Boston series. There is no question that, when he's on, Gordon is amongst the elite marksmen in the entire league.
But, unfortunately, there is more to winning than just being able score whenever you want. Gordon is a defensive liability both because of effort and his size, making him a less-than-ideal shooting guard. However, Gordon isn't a good ball handler either, making him an ineffective point guard as well.
With the franchise now firmly in the hands of Derrick Rose, the need for Gordon to be the default name on the chalk board at crunch time is no longer an issue.
Will Forman keep Gordon, or is there a sign-and-trade for a more potent big man coming this summer?
2. Is Luol Deng relevant or, more importantly, needed any more?
At the trade deadline this season, Paxson pulled off a subtle stroke of genius that was overlooked by nearly ever observer of the league until the last two weeks of the regular season.
Part of the deals Paxson was able to deliver were Brad Miller and John Salmons, two players that had huge roles in the playoff run for the team.
The key component to the deal in regard to Deng is Salmons plays the role Bulls management envisioned for Deng when they gave him a contract extension last year. He's a taller, more physical player with a decent ability to create his own shot (he played the point at Miami in college). Salmons also plays good defense, usually against the opponents' best player.
So where does this leave Deng? He had a mysterious injury to his leg late in the season that drew a battle of misinformation and marketing between Deng's camp and the organization. The fact that one of the highest paid players on the team was in a suit for a big playoff series speaks volumes for Deng's future with the Bulls.
What will Forman do with Deng?
3. What to do with two first round draft picks?
The Bulls own the rights to their selection in the first round (16) as well as the Denver Nuggets pick (TBD). The first two issues I raise will play a significant role in how Forman likely deals with the options in this year's draft class.
There are a good number of small forwards and shooting guards that could be around still in the middle of the round when the Bulls number is first called, some of which could adequately replace a departed Gordon or Deng.
There is also a group of big men, like Pitt's DeJuan Blair, that could be available if the Bulls decided to add some bulk to a skinny front court including Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah.
Does Forman use both picks? Is one or both used to replace a departed star? Or does the new General Manager use one or both of the picks as part of a package in a trade...
4. Is Chris Bosh a Chicago Bull in 2009-10?
There were rumors of the Bulls inquiring about Amare Stoudemire before the trade deadline. There has also been rumors that interest is mutual regarding a potential marriage between the Raptors power forward and free agent-to-be, Chris Bosh.
The Raptors are likely going to have a long internal conversation throughout this coming summer regarding the future of their franchise player, just one season before Bosh walks as a free agent.
It has become fairly clear Toronto won't be able to afford a maximum contract for Bosh, so do they trade him before or during the season? Or do they wait too long and lose a franchise player for nothing?
Enter the Bulls, who possess an intriguing number of options to make a trade happen with Toronto.
The Raptors like Jose Calderon at point guard, but Anthony Parker is more of a role player than a starting shooting guard. Do names like Kirk Hinrich or Ben Gordon get involved? Would Tyrus Thomas be required to replace Bosh as power forward in Toronto, or would one (or both) of the draft picks do the job?
Is there a way that Forman can get Bosh to Chicago this summer?