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Bulls front office rift: report of a deteriorating relationship between GM and Coach

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Jonathan Daniel

Another day, and yet more coming out regarding the Ron Adams firing and its indication of a rift between Tom Thibodeau and Gar Forman.

This comes from WSCR host Dan Bernstein, someone (along with his co-host Terry Boers) who often mentions his sources inside the Bulls but usually presents the information he receives from them as more of a vague aside. So I enjoy that he's being more forthcoming and definitive with what he posted Wednesday on his station's website.

Especially because it's juicy. To start, there's a different scenario (or at least more extreme version) for the Adams firing itself. Unlike what was reported in the Tribune earlier that said Adams had a recent pattern of 'insubordination', Bernstein categorizes the move as "abrupt", adding "The unexpected ouster of the respected and well-liked Adams was a shot by Forman off Thibodeau’s bow", with no mention of potentially legitimate reasons for the dismissal outside of a power-play.

And then Bernstein goes more into some of the core disagreements between the coaching staff and front office.

Minute-loads on key players in the regular season remain one sticking point. Forman believes he has continually assembled viable bench options, but then waits to see them forced into action by necessity after starters begin to crumble from overuse....Forman is frustrated by what now is a pattern – piling up victories to grab a high Eastern Conference seed, only to send a tired, depleted team out to fight for what really matters.

This is something we here comment on regularly, though Forman is lacking awareness if he really thinks Nazr Mohammed and Vlad Radmanovic were truly that 'viable' in the frontcourt.

There is a lot more to take in. To summarize:

  • Forman is now more in charge of the Bulls than ever, "in charge of the roster, and not operating as a mere proxy for Paxson."
  • This all 'underscores' the Derrick Rose return, as another reason for Forman's 'disappointment' in Rose sitting out is that they couldn't get over the assumed issues with Thibs monitoring the PG's playing time.
  • Both Forman and Thibs are driven, strong-willed weirdos. On Forman: "his consolidation of power has brought with it an increasingly Krause-like insularity.", and Thibodeau as painted as someone obsessed with basketball (and literally nothing else) to the point where it 'suffocated' players and 'weighed on the workplace'.

So what is there to add to all that? Maybe just acknowledgement that this is a really pivotal season for the Bulls: if Rose is truly back, the pieces Forman assembled work well around him, and the Bulls not only win a bunch of regular season games but seriously challenge for the Eastern Conference championship, then all will probably be well. But if things go unexpectedly poor, these simmering issues may cause a more dramatic and quicker fallout.