Goodbye and Good Riddance Gar Forman!
While very little good news is being seen in the world today, a bright light has been seen for fans of the Chicago Bulls.
Last week, the Chicago Bulls officially fired co-general manager of the organization, Gar Forman, and demoted another co-GM, John Paxson, to a lesser role in the front office giving him little to no power in the decision making process.
“Why is this good news?” the casual sports fan may ask. That’s because after the Bulls won six NBA Finals during the 1990s, the team became one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of the NBA. After moving on from former GM, and possible member of the Monstars, Jerry Krause, the Bulls began the tandem nicknamed Gar/Pax. They were general managers of the Bulls for 22 years and made some horrible decisions while there, but I’ll get to that later.
The Bulls saw some success with Gar/Pax running the show. Those bright spots included the Baby Bulls of the early 2000s, drafting Derrick Rose with the number one pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, drafting Jimmy Butler in 2011, and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2011 that followed a 62-20 season and finishing as the number one seed in the Eastern conference.
Other than that, the leadership of the duo was horrible. They had constant spats with Tom Thibodeau when he was head coach in the early 2010s. The tension between them led to them firing a coach who was one of the best in the league at the time and made the team a two-way force.
They replaced him with Fred Hoiberg in 2016, who was a successful college coach with Iowa State, but a horrible NBA coach. He wasn’t even someone who should’ve been considered at the time of his hiring because the Bulls were still a team with playoff hopes with pieces like Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Pau Gasol. Hoiberg never got along with the players because he wasn’t very stern, completely opposite of Thibodeau who was harder on his players.
Gar/Pax were just as bad when it came to free agency. Let’s rewind to 2009: Derrick Rose is starting to rise as one of the best point guards in the NBA and his backcourt member, Ben Gordon, is starting to lose playing time because of this. Gordon had been a great scorer for the Bulls all five years he was a member of the team and in 2009 he left the Bulls for the Detroit Pistons, a division rival of Chicago. When Gordon got to Detroit, his play dropped off significantly and he ended up becoming a bench player. If the Bulls offered him a better contract and kept Ben Gordon, maybe things would have worked out because of how well he played in their system.
I also thought the Bulls signing of Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade in the summer of 2016 were bad ideas too. Sure, they had a playoff appearance and won two games against the Celtics in the first round, but they could’ve started a rebuild instead. The players who were signed also didn’t compliment Jimmy Butler at all. Butler is a great small forward, don’t get me wrong, but he can’t shoot for shit and neither can Rondo; and Wade not that great. Also, the Bulls played worse when D-Wade was on the floor, I don’t know how that happened but it did. They were old as shit too, I know Rondo is on the Lakers now, who were bound for a deep playoff run, but he’s still not the player he was before his ACL tear.
Gar/Pax weren’t impressive when it came to trades either. As I sit here and type, several come to mind that leave me absolutely perplexed.
Although the 2016 trade that sent Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a second-round pick to the Knicks is one hated by most fans, it was an important step in the direction of rebuilding. The rebuilding has been shit so far, by the way, mostly because of coaching. I mostly hated the trade because it sent Chicago’s native superstar to the Big Apple.
One of the worst trades made by the duo occured in the 2006 NBA Draft. The Bulls snagged future seven time all-star and All-NBA power forward Lamarcus Aldrige with the second pick in the draft. He sounds pretty good at basketball right? Guess Gar/Pax didn’t think he’d pan out and they traded him to the Portland Trailblazers for Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa. You’ve probably never heard of them because they both had fairly short careers. I’ll give Tyrus Thomas credit for being All-Rookie in the 2006-07 season.
Another trade that was pretty bad was when the front office traded Kyle Korver, an all-time great shooter in the NBA, to the Atlanta Hawks for cash considerations. Not only was Korver one of the key pieces of Chicago’s Bench Mob, but he’s third all-time in three pointers made. He also continued his success as a three-point shooter in the league with the Hawks. Korver increased both his three-point percentage and his overall field goal percentage after the trade.
There’s plenty of bad trades that I think of when it comes to the Bulls, including Tyson Chandler being traded for J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown and when they traded Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis for Otto Porter Jr. and his monster contract. I do enjoy seeing Porter Jr. play for the Bulls, he's a great piece that plays well in the right system, but he was owed so much money and we lost Bobby Portis, who’s been playing great since the trade.
The final trade that stands out the most to me was their trade for Doug McDermott in the 2014 NBA Draft. Before I say anything I want to say that Doug McDermott was a stud coming out of college. He balled in his four years at Creighton and looked like he had a high ceiling during the draft, but the Bulls probably shouldn’t have traded so much for a 23-year-old.
Now, this trade was dog shit, plain and simple. The Bulls had two picks in the first round of the 2014 draft, the 16th and the 19th picks. Instead of keeping them they traded them to the Denver Nuggets to get the prize they wanted the most, Doug McDermott. The Bulls got their man and the Nuggets went on to draft Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, who have seen great success in recent years with the teams they’re on now.
Before his injury late in the 2018-19 season, Nurkic was averaging a 15 point double-double with the Portland Trailblazers. He was also a major piece for the team as they were about to enter the NBA Playoffs. The Trailblazers have suffered without the Bosnian Beast in their frontcourt.
Gary Harris has had a solid career with the Nuggets, only averaging less than 10 points per game in his rookie season with the team. His scoring has decreased in the past two seasons, but he’s still a major part of the Denver Nuggets.
McDermott was improving each year with his time with the Bulls. He even received the nickname “Doug McBuckets” until he was traded to the Knicks in 2017 and his career has been on a downward trajectory since.
The Bulls front office hasn’t made any good coaching hires since Tom Thibodeau was fired in 2015. They hired Fred Hoiberg who was soft and had a weak offense system and didn’t push his players very hard when it came to defense.
Then came Jim Boylen, who was with the organization for years prior and has led the Bulls in what has been a disappointing season. Chicgao came into the season with playoff hopes, and Boylen did not lead the team anywhere near that direction. His coaching also led to the digression of the skills of players like Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr.. Boylen also had a public dispute, on and off the court, with star shooting guard Zach Lavine.
Will he be fired by the new President of Basketball Operations, Arturas Karnisovas, I fucking hope so. I also hope they find a good general manager who will actually try and build a good relationship with the team’s head coach and players. Also if Jim Boylen gets fired I think the Bulls need to go after Kenny Atkinson and bring him in.
April 14th, 2020, was a holiday for Bulls fans, and I hope this new chapter in the franchise leads to a new dynasty.