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Bulls GM Forman claims no discord with Thibs over assistant Adams

Assistant coach RAdams with Derrick Rose was not retained by Bulls. | Sun-Times Library

Assistant coach Ron Adams, with Derrick Rose, was not retained by the Bulls. | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: August 3, 2013 6:33AM



Is the release of Bulls assistant coach Ron Adams a sign of a fracture in the relationship between general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau?

Maybe, maybe not. But when Forman insisted, ‘‘I think Tom and I have a very good working relationship,’’ it’s worth noting that he did so at a news conference alone. Thibodeau, who had just shared the same table with Forman at a news conference to introduce draft picks Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, suddenly was nowhere to be found.

If this were a true team decision, it would have behooved the Bulls to show some unity and have the coach and general manager sit side-by-side to address the most obvious question regarding the decision not to renew Adams’ contract. The intended message — it’s a professional disagreement we both can live with — would have been a lot more plausible.

Instead, we got the opposite.

‘‘There’s a number of decisions that have to be made,’’ Forman said. ‘‘We’re not going to agree on everything. But I think we both have the best interests of the Bulls moving forward. We unite, and we move forward.’’

That may be so, but the issue of discord between Forman and Thibodeau is well within bounds for fans and media, especially considering that Thibodeau was hired in the first place as a result of a GM/coach relationship that turned sour in the worst way. John Paxson physically confronted Vinny Del Negro over a decision they disagreed on and somehow didn’t unite and move forward.

Smaller disagreements than the firing of a head coach’s lead assistant have pushed coaches and GMs onto a similar path toward an irreconcilable difference. So the concern is real.

Unfortunately, Forman’s contention that everything is fine is dubious. Just moments before saying, ‘‘I think Tom and I have a very good working relationship,’’ Forman already had undermined his credibility by insisting, ‘‘I don’t mind talking about [the Adams situation].’’

In fact, he tried to avoid talking about it at all costs and was prepared to let a three-paragraph statement be the final word. Not until reporters, who were led to believe he would address the Adams situation at a later news conference, protested did Forman agree to talk about it.

The statement itself was noteworthy not for Forman’s platitudes (‘‘We want to thank Ron for everything he has brought to this organization . . . we wish him the best of luck.’’), but for a curt comment from Thibodeau that, in its brevity, said more than perhaps it intended:

‘‘Ron is a great friend, an outstanding coach and I will miss him.’’

Forman would not go into any specifics regarding his decision not to rehire Adams, a former assistant under Scott Skiles whom Thibodeau hired upon getting the Bulls job in 2010.

‘‘When we make a decision like this, I don’t think it serves anybody well to go into detail of why the decision was made,’’ Forman said. ‘‘I felt it was the best decision for the Bulls moving forward.’’

The bigger issue is how this will affect the relationship between Forman and Thibodeau.

‘‘Tom makes the decisions on the floor,’’ Forman said. ‘‘Do I agree with absolutely every decision he makes? Probably not. But I’m going to support decisions he makes, and I think he’s going to support decisions I make.’’

We’ll see about that. As it stands, Forman and Thibodeau are united and moving forward. But the situation bears watching. The way the Bulls handled the Adams situation leads you to believe that if there’s not more to the story now, there might be someday.

Forman compared his discord with Thibodeau over Adams to disagreements husbands and wives have all the time. He’s right about that. But it doesn’t strengthen his argument. Nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, often because one disagreement leads to others.

So stay tuned.



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