Today should be a day of celebration. Despite what reporters are relaying from the team, it was a fan revolt that pushed the #FireGarPax movement to this point. Arturas Karnisovas was officially introduced as the new Executive Vice President - Basketball Operations.
And Gar Forman has been fired.
Maybe...well, very likely. Gar has proven to be very capable at mere survival, so I need something like visual confirmation of him turning over his Bulls keyfob, phone, laptop, and bugging equipment. Like some real ‘salt the earth’ type of stuff.
But the statements from Forman, the Bulls, and sourced reporting, do seem pretty final when it comes to Forman’s involvement. I’d like to see him physically excised from the organization given his proven ability to accumulate power in the shadows, but this probably as good as we’re going to get. They should follow through and relieve anybody brought in from the Forman-TimFloyd Iowa State pipeline too.
There’s less celebratory news when it comes to John Paxson, who from all accounts already had supplanted Forman for the last couple years. Paxson is staying with the team as a “Senior Advisor”, and his statement has some troubling verbage:
- It’s Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations. A department we’ve been told, repeatedly, would be Karnisovas’s domain.
- In Paxson’s statement he praises Karnisovas’s “commitment to collaboration”...uh oh...
And here was Karnisovas himself today, curiously using the same language a sourced KC Johnson report had last week:
“I think right from the start during this hiring process, they were hiring No. 1 decision maker. John has a great reputation around the league and can be an asset. I appreciate his candor. he could be a huge help while I’m making this transition.”
And also as a likely nod to his predecessor, Karnisovas said the Bulls “drafted well and have a good young core”. Well what the heck, here I was told Karnisovas was a good evaluator of talent! Here’s hoping it’s just corporate grabass.
As said when he first got the job, Karnisovas looks to have the credentials to do good work here. But keeping Paxson around either shows bad judgement on his part, or a lack of true ‘full authority’ from the Reinsdorfs to run the team.
Ultimately #FireGarPax is not complete. Gar is gone, but Paxson remains, and we’ll have to see what influence the failed regime has over Karnisovas.
For example, needing to even ‘discuss’ Jim Boylen’s job looks like a favor to ownership (and the guy he’s ‘replacing’ and now merely advising) rather than what Karnisovas would truly want. Hilariously, Boylen also put a statement out through the Bulls that was just his usual kiss-ass idiocy. But to give credit to Boylen, this has worked before, and on the very people who have decidedly not been fired today.
Karnisovas had his first press availability (remotely, of course) today, and confirmed rumor from late last week that two new staff members are coming in: J.J. Polk from the Pelicans, and Pat Connelly from AK’s recently-departed Denver Nuggets. A new GM, ostensibly Karnisovas’s 2nd in command, is next, but no timetable was given.
So we still have a huge decision to be made there. And then also the coaching staff, and purging more of the old guard: does Gar’s ISU pal Brian Hagen stay? Do they need Steve Weinman after hiring Polk? Does Doug Collins remain as a second ‘advisor’ with Paxson? Is there a point to Ivica Dukan, with Karnisovas having such better European connections? Is the training and sports performance staff under “basketball operations”?
All in due time, there really is no rush given the state of the league right now. Today was somewhat unsettling that Paxson remained, but good to see one already-marginalized crony in Gar Forman officially gone.