It was reported over the weekend that in a surprising development, the Bulls had 'cut ties' with Thibodeau's lead Assistant Coach Ron Adams. In that original story, KC Johnson remarked on the peculiarity of the move: given Adams credentials and reputation, as well as the coach's personal relationship with Thibs (and according to Ric Bucher, Adams was also really close with Derrick Rose). Johnson further reported this was a power-play from GM Gar Forman.
Sources said Forman objected to Adams’ displeasure with personnel decisions. Other unknown factors obviously could have factored in the decision as well.
The move also was read by some with ties to the organization as Forman making a power play on Thibodeau, who took his time signing the four-year, $17.5 million extension Forman announced publicly in October 2012. Thibodeau chalked the delay up to lawyer work on both sides plus his focus on the season, but management was puzzled by the drawn-out nature of the saga.
There have been changes before this one. Forman brought in Randy Brown as sort of his right-hand man. Forman helped recruit Brown to New Mexico State many years ago.
There was more today, as Forman and Thibodeau addressed the situation to the media. As expected it was all in Gar format:
When we make a decision like this, it doesn’t serve anybody well to go into detail. The decision was made by me because I felt it was best for the Bulls moving forward.
Tom and I talked about it, Tom and I communicate on a daily basis. There are times where I may make decisions that Tom doesn’t totally agree with. There may be times where Tom makes decisions that I don’t totally agree with. It’s like that in any business. I’ve got to make decisions that I feel are best for the Bulls. Once a decision is made, we unite and move forward.
That's horsecrap, Gar, as it serves me for you to go into detail. Go into detail!
For his part, Thibodeau only released a statement, saying "Ron is a great friend, an outstanding coach and I will miss him."
Throughout the morning I was skeptical of a full-fledged 'rift' between Gar Paxdorf and Thibs, and figured that this was mostly to do with money: Adams was working on 1-year contracts and was already (I think) a relatively highly-paid assistant. Thibodeau is about to start his very lucrative contract extension that will earn more than he and Adams both made combined last season. If you majored in Bulls-math, then it's not hard to draw the conclusion that the Org. could try to offset the Thibs raise this way.
And while Gar predictably downplayed any rift between the coaching staff and front office (out of what's probably common in a lot of franchises), those who cover this team closely insist that this is a surprising and strange move. And further, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! dropped this bomb:
As @KCJHoop reports on Gar Forman's dismissal of Tom Thibodeau's top aide, relationship between Bulls' GM and coach easily worst in NBA.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013