The Toronto Raptors are reportedly not willing to make general manager Bobby Webster available to the Chicago Bulls. At this point, that’s the right move.
Finally, it appears the Chicago Bulls are prepared to make some overdue moves at the top of their organization. After years of delay, John Paxson and Gar Forman may be on their way out of their roles, albeit into other jobs in the organization. Among the executives the Bulls are looking at to replace them: Toronto Raptors general manager Bobby Webster.
At the age of 36, Webster is one of the league’s young up-and-coming executives and a gig as president of basketball operations for some team is almost a foregone conclusion. Considering that’s the role he would be in consideration for with the Bulls (or one parallel to that in regards to responsibility and authority, regardless of the specific nomenclature), it would be natural for them to look in on his availability.
However, it looks like the Bulls picked the worst possible time to go on the lookout for somebody new to forge their new path. Over the weekend, Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan rejected an interview request from the Bulls, opting to stay in his role. And now the Toronto Raptors are reportedly unlikely to allow the Bulls to even interview Webster for the job.
Under normal circumstances, this would seem like organizational overreach from the Raptors, but these aren’t normal circumstances, and they have their own interests to look after.
President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is the most sought-after man in basketball with overtures by the New York Knicks, among others. Any team that could pry him out of Toronto would be willing to pay any price he demands, and the Raptors have to feel a bit edgy about that.
There’s also no way to know exactly what form the league will take once the NBA’s COVID-19-induced hiatus comes to an end and there’s no way the Toronto Raptors will be willing to face an uncertain future with the possibility of losing both Ujiri and Webster, no matter how remote.
In these troubled times, a trusted hand is more valuable than ever, and locking Webster into place as the young voice of the future has infinite importance for the NBA’s defending champions.