In news that broke yesterday, the Chicago Bulls (22-43) have sacked general manager Gar Forman and thus ended a 22-year run with the franchise.
Coinciding with the day they announced Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive vice president of basketball operations, a statement by their chairman Jerry Reinsdorf read as follows:
“Gar Forman worked tirelessly for the Chicago Bulls organization, first as a scout and as an executive. He made many significant contributions during his time here, helping 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 has been with Chicago in various capacities since 1998, took over as the team’s GM in 2009.
The Bulls enjoyed a successful run at the turn of the decade and into the mid-2010s, making the playoffs in seven successive years and eight of nine.
However, they have regressed significantly in recent seasons. They went 27-55 in 2017-18 and 22-60 last year, though have improved slightly this season – already reaching last year’s win total with 17 games remaining.
They won their last game before the COVID-19 pandemic against similarly struggling Cavaliers (19-46), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
After beating the Spurs on January 28, Jim Boylen’s men had only recorded two wins in 15 games before the aforementioned 108-103 victory.
Chicago fired head coach Fred Hoiberg in December 2018 after three-plus campaigns, and replacement Boylen has gone just 39-84 in his place.
Recent first-round draft picks (Wendell Carter Jr, Lauri Markkanen) have shown promise, but other deals have not gone as well as were hoped.
Chicago traded Jabari Parker halfway through the 18/19 season after signing him to a potential two-year $40m deal.
The Bulls were also reportedly interested in offers for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine two years after acquiring the duo in the Jimmy Butler deal, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe in February last year.
That was less than one year after they matched a four-year $78m offer sheet for LaVine.
LaVine and Dunn have shown promise, but the Bulls have been beset by injuries and poor trading decisions.
Forman’s tenure began with promise. The 2010-11 Bulls went 62-20, earning the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
The Bulls lost to LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the conference finals, but hope was prevalent with a young team led by point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah.
However, Rose suffered a torn ACL in the 2011-12 playoffs that forced him to miss the full 2012-13 regular campaign. He only played 10 games in 13/14 before suffering a torn meniscus which sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Replacing Rose’s MVP-level talent proved too much to overcome to remain contenders in the East. They traded him in 2016, to the New York Knicks.
He’s now enjoying a career resurgence in Detroit under similar struggling circumstances.
Chicago made some questionable decisions in hindsight, including trading two first-round picks – which ended up being quality NBA starters in Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris – to the Denver Nuggets for Doug McDermott and Anthony Randolph during the 2014 draft.
Forman was just the third Bulls general manager since 1985. Jerry Krause oversaw the team from 1985 to 2003, and John Paxson sat in the GM’s chair from 2003 to 2009 until being promoted to vice president of basketball operations.