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Bulls VP John Paxson: Gar Forman ‘absolutely safe’ as GM

When the Bulls hired Fred Hoiberg as coach in 2015, General Manager Gar Forman sat next to Hoiberg at the introductory press conference.

When the Bulls fired Hoiberg yesterday, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson addressed the media.

The difference was striking.

Displeased with prior coach Tom Thibodeau, Forman targeted Hoiberg as a replacement long before officially ousting Thibodeau. Forman and Hoiberg go way back. Forman was an Iowa State assistant coach when Hoiberg played there, and Hoiberg even sold Forman his house in 2003. Forman pitched Hoiberg as innovator who’d modernize Chicago’s offense and improve morale.

That never materialized, in part due to the rosters Hoiberg was given. However you divide blame between the coach management, management chose both the coach and players.

So, where did that leave Forman yesterday?


First of all, the belief that Gar solely made that decision was wrong. Always have been. Those are reports. We can’t battle everything. I was 100 percent on board with hiring Fred. Jerry and Michael were 100 percent on board with hiring Fred. I work with Gar every day, and I understand his internal value to this organization.

As far as speaking, I am the spokesman as the executive vice president of the Bulls. Gar has a role. We work in tandem together. We make decisions together. But I am the person who’s going to stand up in front and talk about why we do certain things. And that’s just the way it is. It’s not that he’s not talking because he doesn’t want to. It’s because I choose to speak for this organization.

And I feel passionately about his role with us. And we’ve made some great decisions in terms of young personnel the last couple years. And as we have the opportunity to make more decisions, he will be front and center. We’ll work in tandem, and we hope to do the right things.

Gar is absolutely safe, yes.

Forman led the decision to hire Hoiberg. Paxson and owners Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf were on board. But Forman was the main person behind it.

Lately, Forman has taken a less-prominent role, maybe in part due to the Hoiberg flop. But that apparently doesn’t mean Forman will get fired.

Much to the chagrin of Bulls fans – and maybe even people within the organization. Many have just run out of patience with the GarPax regime.

But the results haven’t been as bad as many make it seem. Since naming Forman general manager, the Bulls have won 55% of their games and made the playoffs seven of 10 seasons. This will be just the second losing season (following last year), and they came only after the team chose to rebuild by trading Jimmy Butler.

Forman shouldn’t have absolute job security, and I wouldn’t have major objections to him getting fired now. But I don’t find it preposterous he’s getting a chance to help build the Bulls back up, either.