Gar Forman

Bulls Notes: Front Office, Boylen, Forman, Paxson

On a conference call today introducing new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said that it was clear during the search process that the former Denver GM “checked every box,” as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Reinsdorf admitted that his father, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, ultimately had to sign off on the hire, but said “it was clear after that meeting that we had our guy.”

Karnisovas, meanwhile, confirmed that J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly will join the Bulls’ front office, as previously reported, and said that hiring a general manager is next on his list of priorities. According to Karnisovas, the GM search will be “extensive and diverse,” and the goal will be to hire an executive whose skills complement his own, rather than overlapping significantly with his strengths (all Twitter links via K.C. Johnson).

As for the future of head coach Jim Boylen, that remains up in the air, with Karnisovas telling reporters that there’s no timeline for a decision on Boylen or the coaching staff (Twitter link via Johnson).

Boylen took the unusual step of issuing a welcome message to the new head of basketball operations through the team’s PR department, lauding Karnisovas’ résumé and commending the Reinsdorfs for bringing him aboard.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Karnisovas offered the following explanation when asked about Gar Forman‘s dismissal: “After some consideration and conversation, it was apparent that we have different philosophies that will prevent us from moving forward. Those decisions are never easy. I was hired to affect change” (Twitter link via Johnson).
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times tweets that Forman’s departure should increase the Bulls’ appeal to free agents. Forman’s presence “poisoned the well” with players and agents, according to Cowley, who says the longtime general manager was viewed as “untrustworthy.”
  • Confirming a recent report, Michael Reinsdorf said today that it was John Paxson who came to ownership in the winter to suggest the need for changes in the front office (Twitter link via Johnson). Previously the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, Paxson will now be a senior advisor.
  • After facing some criticism last week for a perceived lack of diversity in the Bulls’ front office search, Reinsdorf defended the team’s record on that front, as Johnson details for NBC Sports Chicago. According to Reinsdorf, two of the six candidates on the team’s short list for head of basketball operations were people of color, but Chicago was denied permission to interview both.
  • Karnisovas said today that facilitating player development will be one of his primary goals in Chicago, since the Bulls are a young team with a handful of promising young players (Twitter link via Johnson).

Bulls Part Ways With GM Gar Forman

Longtime Bulls executive Gar Forman has been relieved of his duties as general manager and will no longer be involved in the team’s basketball operations department, the team announced today in a press release.

“Gar Forman worked tirelessly for the Chicago Bulls organization, first as a scout and then as an executive,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “He made many significant contributions during his time here and helped to bring some of the brightest young basketball talent to our team, from Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to Jimmy Butler and Coby White.

“He has been a trusted advisor and friend to me over the years, and on behalf of everyone I want to thank him for his commitment to the organization. Gar will always be a part of our Bulls family.”

Forman, who initially joined the Bulls as a scout in 1998, was named director of player personnel in 2004 and was eventually promoted to GM in 2009.

With Chicago revamping its front office and hiring Arturas Karnisovas as the club’s new head of basketball operations, there was an expectation that Forman would either be re-assigned to the scouting department or let go altogether. It appears the team has opted for the latter path.

[RELATED: Bulls Officially Move John Paxson To Advisory Role]

Forman issued a statement of his own thanking the Reinsdorfs, calling it an “honor and privilege” to have worked for the Bulls for over two decades, and saying that the team “will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Forman had two years left on his contract with the Bulls, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who tweets that the veteran executive will be “in demand” as a scout for other NBA teams.

Bulls Eye Several Assistant GMs For Their GM Job

Arturas Karnisovas, who is expected to be named the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, will conduct interviews with a number of general manager candidates in the near future, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The Nuggets’ Calvin Booth, the Sixers’ Marc Eversley, the Clippers’ Mark Hughes and the Magic’s Matt Lloyd are among several assistant GMs around the league under consideration, Wojnarowski adds. The Bulls’ office will start seeking permission from other teams to conduct interviews with everyone on their list, Wojnarowski reports in another tweet.

However, Booth could be promoted by Denver to replace Karnisovas, who emerged as Chicago’s choice as its top front office executive on Wednesday.

The Thunder’s Troy Weaver and Nazr Mohammed and the Mavericks’ Michael Finley are also candidates for the GM job, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

No matter which executive that Karnisovas chooses, current GM Gar Forman will lose his title. It’s uncertain whether Forman will be reassigned or simply let go by the organization. Karnisovas will decide Forman’s future, according to another Cowley tweet.

Longtime Bulls executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson is expected to remain in an advisory position with Karnisovas and ownership making the final decisions.

The Bulls were reportedly denied permission by the Thunder to speak with Weaver, OKC’s VP of basketball operations, during the search process for an executive VP. Whether the Thunder have changed their stance on Weaver remains to be seen. The Bulls did hold an informal interview with Mohammed recently for another front office job.

Chad Buchanan To Stay With Pacers, Turns Down Interview With Bulls

Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan is declining an opportunity to interview for the Bulls‘ top front office position, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Buchanan decided to remain in his current job, saying he and his family have been treated well by the organization.

Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Miami’s Adam Simon and Denver’s Arturas Karnisovas are the most prominent remaining candidates for the position, Charania adds, but Chicago will continue to research other possibilities (Twitter link).

Buchanan, who is in his third year as Indiana’s GM, also worked with president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard in Portland before they both came to Indiana. His comfort level with that partnership played a strong role in the decision to stay, a source tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

The Bulls are seeking permission to interview Webster, Simon and Karnisovas, according to Johnson, who adds that team president Michael Reinsdorf hopes to fill the position before the NBA hiatus is over. Whoever is ultimately hired to run the organization may make more hires and will launch an overhaul of the scouting department.

Executive vice president John Paxson is expected to be retained in an advisory role, but the fate of former GM Gar Forman, who is now working mainly in scouting, may be determined by the new regime. Reinsdorf is still a strong supporter of coach Jim Boylen, Johnson notes, but the fate of all the coaches will be decided by the new team president.

Assistant GM Steve Weinman is believed to be safe, Johnson writes. He has built a strong reputation for his expertise with salary cap issues and the collective bargaining agreement.

Bulls To Seek Interviews With Karnisovas, Webster, Others

1:24pm: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan will  join Karnisovas and Webster on the Bulls’ list of first-wave interview targets, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Sources tell Darnell Mayberry and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Heat assistant GM Adam Simon will be part of that group as well.

According to Mayberry (Twitter link), the Bulls won’t pursue Ujiri or Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti and won’t go the player-agent route like New York and other teams have.

12:41pm: The Bulls have formally launched their search for a new top front office executive who will have full authority on basketball decisions, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. We had previously heard in a series of February reports that the team was laying the groundwork for front office changes.

Those February reports suggested that executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson would retain a “valuable seat at the table” amidst the front office upheaval and that general manager Gar Forman would have his responsibilities cut back.

Wojnarowski confirms that Paxson is expected to continue in an advisory role and says that the club will have more conversations with Forman about his future. Previous reports indicated Forman would likely be re-assigned to a scouting position.

According to Wojnarowski, Chicago plans to seek permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas and Raptors GM Bobby Webster, among others. The club’s goal is to complete its planned front office changes “well before” the NBA resumes play, per Woj, who hears that interviews will begin next week and will be conducted virtually rather than in person due to the coronavirus.

Neither Karnisovas nor Webster is the head of basketball operations for his respective team — Tim Connelly serves as Denver’s president of basketball operations, while Masai Ujiri holds that position in Toronto. However, the two GMs have risen through their respective organizations in recent years and have played important roles in building the Nuggets’ and Raptors’ talented rosters.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who identified Karnisovas and Webster as two possible targets for the Bulls in a March mailbag, Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, and Clippers GM Michael Winger are among the other executives on Bulls president/COO Michael Reinsdorf‘s list of potential candidates (Twitter link).

Many of those executives are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, but likely wouldn’t be held back by their respective teams if the Bulls’ job is viewed as a promotion from their current roles. Based on Woj’s description, it should be.

The timing of Chicago’s search is interesting. Ujiri spoke earlier this week about putting business like contract extensions for himself and Nick Nurse on hold during the NBA’s stoppage, and we heard on Thursday that the Knicks aren’t pursuing front office changes or a new head coach during the hiatus. Nets GM Sean Marks also said this week that his team isn’t moving forward with its head coach search at this time.

However, no official hiring or firing freeze has been instituted by the NBA, and the Bulls’ situation is a little different from that of those other teams — a new top front office executive would lead the team’s decisions in the draft and free agency, making that search a more pressing matter than a head coaching hire, lower-level front office changes, or extensions for current execs and coaches.

Central Notes: Love, Pacers, Forman, Nance

The Cavaliers continue to value Kevin Love highly and don’t regret giving him a four-year, $120MM contract extension, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Love’s attitude and play improved once J.B. Bickerstaff replaced John Beilein as head coach after the All-Star break. The Cavs don’t feel the need to dump salary this offseason, Fedor continues, so in any Love deal they’d want some combination of draft picks and young players.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The coronavirus pandemic could impact renovations planned for the Pacers‘ Bankers Fieldhouse prior to next season’s All-Star game, Scott Agness of The Athletic writes. Some work has already begun but the renovations were scheduled to ramp up once the season ended. Phase one (of three) is supposed to be completed before the All-Star Game but if Indiana’s games resume this season and last into July, it could impact those scheduled renovations prior to next season.
  • Bulls GM Gar Forman has essentially been reduced to a lead scout, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The franchise is expected to overhaul its front office once the league shutdown is lifted. Forman will lose his GM title and will have no decision-making authority once the restructuring is completed, Cowley adds.
  • Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. is especially concerned about COVID-19 due to other health factors, as Kelsey Russo of The Athletic explains. Nance was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a teenager. Since the illness is treated with immunosuppressive medication, he is more susceptible to infections in general. “You’d hear every now and again somebody say like, ‘Oh we’re blowing this out of proportion, it’s not that big of a deal.’ And for me, it was like, ‘What?’ This is a huge deal,” Nance said.

Bulls Preparing For Front Office Changes

7:57pm: K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago echoes many of Cowley’s points in his own report, writing that talk has been “rampant throughout All-Star weekend” about the changes the Bulls are expected to make to their front office. The team is seeking someone to take on the day-to-day basketball operations and become a “fresh voice and face of the franchise,” writes Johnson.

7:21pm: The Bulls are in the early stages of adding a new executive to their front office, sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and COO Michael Reinsdorf have begun to do legwork – through back channels – on potential candidates.

Cowley, who suggests the Bulls are in the market for a general manager “with a louder voice,” writes that the search is expected to be widespread. Gar Forman still holds the GM role in Chicago for now, but senior advisor Doug Collins is among those who are in favor of a change, according to Cowley.

As Cowley explains, the idea would be for Paxson to “slip into the background” as the new general manager assumes media duties. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf likes the model employed by the Chicago White Sox, with Ken Williams in the background as the VP while Rick Hahn has been more empowered in his GM role. For the Bulls, Paxson would take on a Williams-esque role, with the new GM playing Hahn’s part.

Forman, meanwhile, would likely be reassigned to a scouting position rather than being fired, per Cowley, who notes that the team wants to build up its scouting department this spring.

Paxson and Forman have headed the Bulls’ front office for over a decade, much to the chagrin of a significant faction of Bulls fans. During Friday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, when guard Zach LaVine was asked whether he has confidence in Chicago’s decision-makers, the fans in attendance began to boo and a chant of “Fire GarPax!” broke out (link via Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times).

Assuming the Bulls do move forward with the front office changes Cowley outlines in his report, it’ll be interesting to see whether the club sticks with head coach Jim Boylen, who has received the full support of the current group. Boylen’s current contract isn’t a long-term deal, so it’s possible a new GM would be given the go-ahead to make the call on his future.

Central Notes: Porter Jr., Oladipo, Green, Forman

One of the big reasons why the Cavaliers made the Jordan Clarkson trade was to open up minutes for rookie Kevin Porter Jr., according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The team was aware that Clarkson would likely leave as an unrestricted free agent over the summer, while Porter is one of the team’s building blocks, Fedor continues. Teammates, coaches and members of the front office have raved about Porter’s talent for months, Fedor adds, and by moving Clarkson there’s more playing time available for the 30th overall pick in the draft.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • While ESPN reported that Victor Oladipo is aiming to return in late January or early February, Pacers coach Nate McMillan insists no timetable has been set for his star guard’s return, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star relays.  Oladipo continues to work his way back from a serious quad injury suffered last season.“No. We haven’t come up with a date,” McMillan said. “I saw that report. We haven’t come up with a timeline for him to return.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green could fill a need for the Bulls, according to Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. They are dealing with injuries at the small forward spot and Green, who was waived by Utah earlier this week, could help in that area. Otto Porter Jr.‘s foot ailment seems to be a long-term issue, Walton notes. The Bulls would have to open up a roster spot to sign Green since they’re currently at the maximum level.
  • Gar Forman’s draft record with the Bulls has been solid but unspectacular over the past four years with the club in rebuild mode, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. Forman’s best pick was selecting Lauri Markkanen in the 2017 draft, Cowley notes.

Reinsdorf Defends Staff, Sees ‘Big Jump’ Next Season

Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf defended his top front office executives and head coach in a radio interview on Monday and said he expects the team to make big strides next season. Reinsdorf made those comments on 670 The Score’s Mully and Haugh (hat tip to NBC Sports Chicago’s Dan Santaromita).

Reinsdorf and the Bulls have taken a lot of heat for retaining GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson. Reinsdorf said the duo built “championship-caliber teams” before Derrick Rose suffered serious knee injuries. He also feels they have drafted well, naming Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah among their best picks.

He’s confident with a young core group and a high lottery pick, the Bulls are on the upswing. Heading into Tuesday’s lottery, Chicago holds the No. 4 spot.

“I feel like we have a great opportunity with this year’s draft to add another player and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think we can jump from where we were this year to a much better record,” Reinsdorf said. “I really think we’re set up. … I don’t claim that next year we’re going to be a championship caliber team, but I think you’re going to see the next step next year and a big jump.”

The Bulls could have up to $19MM in cap space this summer and Reinsdorf says they’ll use it to fortify the bench.

“We’re going to follow this plan through,” Reinsdorf said. “We have some cap space this year to spend on players. I do think we need to add to our depth and we’ll do that.”

Chicago’s decision to hand Jim Boylen a multiyear extension also caused grumbling among Bulls fans, considering the team’s 22-60 record. Reinsdorf was convinced by season’s end that the head coach had earned it.

“I think we knew towards the end of the season that Jim was the right person for us,” Reinsdorf said. “We had enough experience with him and so it was just a matter of getting the contract done.”

Bulls Notes: Dunn, Markkanen, Wings, Forman

On Tuesday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about how Bulls point guard Kris Dunn wanted to know what team personnel – i.e. head coach Jim Boylen and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson – were thinking in regard to Dunn’s future with the team.

As Cowley put it, it’s up for debate whether or not Dunn has the skills to be a starter in this league for a team on the back-end of a rebuilding project. That is, a team that expects to start competing for the playoffs sooner rather than later. As such, the question becomes whether the Bulls are truly committed to Dunn.

“I haven’t really talked to them (about that)”, Dunn said. “So once I talk to them, I’ll get a sense of what they’re thinking… It’s a business. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. I’m just going to control what I can control. I’m excited to get back in the gym and do what I do.”

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately for Dunn, he got a pretty straightforward answer from Paxson earlier today, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Per Johnson, Paxson told the media that the Bulls have not yet given up on Dunn, but that the team needed to get better at the point guard position and that Dunn will have the opportunity this summer to show that he can improve his game to where Paxson and Boylen feel it needs to be.

There’s more out of Chicago this evening:

  • An official update from the team reports that big man Lauri Markkanen, after completing thorough examinations from cardiologists at both Rush University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University, has been cleared to resume full basketball-related activities. Medical testing revealed that Markkanen’s symptoms (e.g. rapid heart rate) were primarily related to a combination of dehydration and nutrient deficiency.
  • In addition to his comments regarding Dunn, Paxson also iterated today (via the Bulls’ official Twitter handle) how the team is looking to add versatility to the wing position this off-season, with some lineups next year featuring Markkanen at the five and Otto Porter Jr. at the four.
  • As part of his story on Boylen’s extension, Cowley notes that Paxson quickly shot down the idea of demoting general manager Gar Forman, stating that Forman’s job is safe and reiterating that “(Forman is) very good at what he does.”