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Forman-Thibodeau ‘feud’ is nonsense, says Bulls VP Paxson

Updated: November 9, 2013 6:26AM



ST. LOUIS — John Paxson would like names. One name, several — it really didn’t matter Monday to the Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations, who just wants someone to step up and ‘‘be a man.’’

In a Yahoo Sports story published Sunday, the relationship between Bulls general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau was described as a ‘‘distrust’’ and ‘‘downright disdain.’’ An NBA coaching source was quoted as saying, ‘‘It is a toxic relationship that I believe will ultimately derail them.’’

Forman and Thibodeau haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on personnel moves, which has been well documented, but Paxson takes exception to the idea that it’s a feud heading toward a boiling point.

‘‘We’re so far past that,’’ he said. ‘‘To continue to try and keep it going, I don’t know what the agenda is. That’s one thing that we all talked about, really from the beginning of this year: No one has any agenda here.

‘‘If you’re really going to say something like that, then go on the record, be a man, put your name out there. Don’t hide behind that stuff. But from our perspective, from our seat, we’re doing great. The relationship is healthy. We all want the same thing, and that’s to be as good as we possibly can out there on the floor.’’

Chicago saw what a truly unhealthy relationship between a GM and coach/manager looks like when the White Sox’ Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen captured headlines a few years ago.

Paxson snickered at the idea of the Bulls being anywhere near that.

‘‘I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s been blown way out of proportion,’’ he said. ‘‘I think someone other than anyone in our organization has an agenda that really doesn’t suit what we’re all about. No matter what you do in this business, when you’re making decisions, whether it’s based on personnel or anything like that, you’re going to have ideas, different opinions, and that’s what we do. We sit in a room and talk these things through. The thing is, right now we’re all on the same page, and there are no hidden agendas from Gar, myself and Tom.’’

Paxson was bothered, too, that the article put point guard Derrick Rose in the middle, saying Rose’s ‘‘reconstructed knee could be a powerful agent of reconciliation.’’

‘‘We’re never going to put Derrick in a position where he’s in the middle of anything. That’s not what we’re about,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘The story is dead, and for whatever reason [the writer] wanted to perpetuate it for another day. It’s gone now. We’re all on the same page.’’

A Bulls source admitted there was some tension when Forman decided after the season not to renew the contract of assistant coach Ron Adams, a good friend of Thibodeau, but ‘‘both men were over it in like a day,’’ the source said.

Forman and Thibodeau have been seen discussing team business together as far back as Summer League play in July and have laughed and joked in each other’s company.

Dysfunction?

‘‘It’s an opinion, I guess,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘You’re entitled to it, but it doesn’t mean it’s right or accurate.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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