Bulls’ meltdown in OKC is just the latest evidence of a rebuild gone wrong

The Bulls watched a 26-point lead disappear by the fourth quarter on Monday. It was just another meltdown in a season of bad losses — the same old, same old for a rebuild seemingly going nowhere.

SHARE Bulls’ meltdown in OKC is just the latest evidence of a rebuild gone wrong
Gar Forman and John Paxson seem to have again lost their way in rebuilding the Bulls.

Gar Forman and John Paxson seem to have again lost their way in rebuilding the Bulls.

James Foster/For the Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — The bad losses have been piling up this season — the meltdown against the Lakers, the no-show against the Rockets, then whatever that was Monday in Oklahoma City — and at 10-19, the Bulls are still more talk than action, more excuses than accountability.

It’s a familiar stench that’s emanating from the Advocate Center and United Center.

Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson having individual meetings with a handful of media outlets Saturday and taking the bullet was an admirable gesture, but accountability without consequence is ineffectual.

“I take responsibility for where we’re at,’’ Paxson said. “I always will.’’

Well, here’s where they’re at: lost.

The Bulls had set a course for a return to elite status at the start of the rebuild in 2017 but instead veered left at a crucial time, leaving them headed straight back to NBA hell. That’s where mediocrity will get you. You’re not good enough to be any sort of threat and not lucky enough to hit it big in the draft lottery but still susceptible to the false pretense that help will come.

Help is not coming.

Big-name free agents won’t join this mess.

They haven’t in better times, and they won’t in the next few years, something the organization was counting on.

This rebuild has been one miscalculation after another, and it started when the Bulls initially thought Jimmy Butler’s price tag was too high a ransom to pay. But after a handful of trades, three free-agent offseasons and three drafts, they still haven’t come close to matching the skills Butler brought on a nightly basis.

Butler’s specter hangs over this entire rebuild.

And it’s not the only one.

As if trading away a top-three two-way player weren’t enough, the organization has remained tone-deaf to the obvious. The entire city understands that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf puts members of his front office on lifetime scholarships. Fine, it’s his dime.

But when a team has to hide one of its execs — general manager Gar Forman — from the public eye, it’s an indictment of the individual as well as an admission of overall incompetence.

The Sun-Times reported Nov. 26 that Reinsdorf finally was realizing that Forman was not working out as the GM, and if the season continued to spiral, a change might benecessary. That possibility remains, especially within a scenario in which Forman would be repositioned in the organization.

But it all could be too little, too late.

A year ago, they had an opportunity to go after Trajan Langdon, who was an assistant general manager with the Nets at the time. Langdon was hired by the Pelicans in the summer to take over as their GM; the Bulls opted to chew on the same old stale loaf of bread.

This organization clearly needs a new set of eyes, a new voice in the room. More important, it needs a personality that can make free agents feel like Chicago is an attractive destination instead of a used-car lot.

Otherwise, this will stay business as usual, and bad business at that.

Blowing a 26-point lead to start a four-game trip is a microcosm of the last three years.

One big, bad, blurry mess with no end in sight.

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