Here’s a tip for the free-agent classes of 2020 and ’21: The Bulls finally have a new mentality that might capture your attention.
Gone are the days of former general manager Jerry Krause insisting that organizations win championships.
Tossed aside is the outdated philosophy that having five good players is better than having one or two elite players.
The Bulls’ revamped front office encompasses much more than new nameplates on office doors. It’s about having people in the leather office chairs who understand how to chase a seventh Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
“One of my mottoes is ‘Players first,’ ” new general manager Marc Eversley said Friday, when he was officially introduced to the media via Zoom. “I think you have to create a players-first mentality. We were the second-youngest team in the NBA last year, and I really believe it starts with a foundation of player development. True player development, that’s really when we can see what kind of players we have on our roster.’’
The idea is to develop players to their fullest, then offer a real selling point to a superstar.
Former GM Gar Forman and ex-vice president of basketball operations John Paxson were aware of the concept, but their execution was lacking.
The best nurturer of talent Forman and Paxson had was former coach Tom Thibodeau, who was so adept at getting the best out of his players that he covered up a lot of the mistakes his bosses made in the draft and free agency.
After Thibodeau was shown the door, the organization fell so far behind the times that Eversley was caught somewhat off guard.
“I was surprised to find that there was one player-development coach on the staff as I was doing my research for this job,’’ Eversley said. “That’s a hell of a job for one person to take on. It’s one of my tenets to try to figure out our player-development system.
“There’s a lot of key areas within it: skill development, physical development, mental enhancement. But with that, you need to hire people to help support that. We’re going to do a pretty diligent job in terms of looking for the proper staff to bring in here to work with our young guys. But player development is going to be a tremendous focus for this organization moving forward.’’
And when it’s time to sit across the table from an All-Star-caliber free agent, Eversley feels he will be at his best.
Going back to his days with Nike, Eversley was a relationship-builder. Need proof?
“At the time when I was working with Nike and working with the Raptors, that’s when I got to meet Vince [Carter], and he and I became very close,’’ Eversley said. “I stood up for him at his wedding, godfather to his daughter, and those are the types of things that relationships can do for you, can help move the needle.’’
That’s just what the Bulls need: that needle finally moving -— and not backward.