DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman insisted it was his call to let Tom Thibodeau’s top assistant go and downplayed the idea there’s friction with the coach.
The Bulls announced Monday that they were not renewing Ron Adams’ contract for next season, raising a few eyebrows.
“The decision was made by me because I felt it was the best decision for the Bulls going forward,” Forman said.
Why was it the best decision? Forman wouldn’t say.
Adams rejoined the Bulls in 2010 after serving as an assistant with Oklahoma City following a five-year run in Chicago from 2003 to 2008. The way this move came down was unusual because head coaches generally set their staff, yet it was the general manager pulling the plug in this case.
“Here’s what I don’t want to get into,” Forman said. “We make tens if not hundreds of decisions every year. I don’t think we want to evaluate every decision, who’s on board. We communicate about every decision, and at the end of the day, I’ve got to make the decisions I feel are best for this organization moving forward. We’ll unite and we’ll move forward. Tom makes the decisions on the floor. He’s our head coach. I think he’s as good a coach as there is in the NBA. He does a great job.
“Do I agree with absolutely every decision he makes?” he continued. “We’ll communicate, probably not. But at the end of the day, I’m going to support the decisions he makes and I think he’s going to support decisions that I make. As long as once they’re made, we unite and move forward because the goal is to continue to get this team better and to compete for a championship.”
Thibodeau praised Forman and his staff after the draft on Thursday night, and they’re locked in for four more years after agreeing to an extension last fall. But that didn’t come without a bump or two. Thibodeau waited until later in the season to sign the deal, saying some legal issues needed to be ironed out.
Throw in Derrick Rose’s season-long recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and there was no shortage of side stories as the Bulls clawed their way to 45 wins and a second-round playoff loss to the champion Miami Heat.
Forman found himself answering questions about an assistant coach on the day the Bulls introduced first-round draft pick Tony Snell of New Mexico and second-rounder Erik Murphy of Florida. Thibodeau was not available to reporters to discuss the Adams move, though he said in a team statement: “Ron is a great friend, an outstanding coach and I will miss him.”
Forman said he and his coach “have a very good working relationship.” He also said the GM has “final say” over assistants and that the rest of the coaching staff remains in place.
As for free agency, the Bulls have no cap room and are in luxury-tax territory, so they don’t have much flexibility. T
“I think it’s still a feeling-out period as far as what the market is and what players are available,” Forman said. “At this point, we’re limited because of being in the tax. But within that, I think we’ll look at every avenue we have to move forward.”
He said the Bulls did reach out to point guard Nate Robinson’s representatives and the team will wait and see “where the market’s going.” The same goes for Marco Belinelli.
There’s a good chance Robinson could be squeezed out with Rose returning and veteran Kirk Hinrich and 2012 first-round pick Marquis Teague in place. Belinelli might find a bigger role and a bigger paycheck with another team. Forman would like to bring back veteran center Nazr Mohammed.
“Really like Nazr,” he said. “First of all, it’s good to have veterans like Nazr that have been around the league, that understand what it takes to be successful. He’s great in our locker room. I think he’s great on the practice floor, and I think he was very good in games, especially late in the year.”