DEERFIELD, Ill. — Following Monday’s introductory press conference for draft picks Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, Bulls general manager Gar Forman returned to the podium at the Berto Center to address the departure of Tom Thibodeau’s lead assistant coach, Ron Adams.
Adams, who had two stints with the Bulls — he was an assistant under Scott Skiles and returned in 2010 with Thibodeau, who he previously coached with in San Antonio and Philadelphia — was informed that his contract wouldn’t be renewed Friday, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune.
In a statement given to the assembled media before Forman spoke, the executive said, “We want to thank Ron for everything that he brought to this organization in his role as assistant coach, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. After assessing the situation, it was my decision that this was in the best interest of the Bulls organization.”
In the same statement, Thibodeau added, “Ron is a great friend, an outstanding coach and I will miss him.”
When asked by reporters to elaborate about the situation, Forman replied, “I really can’t.
“I think with any type of personnel decision, I think it’s best left unsaid, as far as why decisions were made. So I don’t think it does anybody any good to go into specifics and that would be with any type of personnel decision we make, whether it’s a player or anything else,” he continued, later adding, “I don’t want to go into details.”
Because of Thibodeau’s long professional relationship and personal friendship with Adams, there has been speculation that his departure has created a rift between the Bulls’ coaching staff and front office, and specifically between Thibodeau and Forman.
However, while it can be assumed that Thibodeau was not ecstatic about the decision, for better or worse, the nature of the relationship between him and the general manager won’t change, meaning that while they might not be best buddies off the court, as long as the Bulls continue to win on the court, they will continue to tolerate each other professionally.
“I think Tom and I have a very good working relationship and like I said, there’s a number of decisions that have to be made, sometimes in a day,” Forman explained. “We’re not always going to agree on everything, but at the end of the day, I think we both have the best interest of the Bulls moving forward.
“Tom and I talked about it. Tom and I communicate on a consistent basis, on a daily basis, as far as all those decisions I’m talking about and at the end of the day, there’s times where I make decisions that Tom doesn’t fully agree with. There may be times where Tom makes decisions that I don’t totally agree with. It’s like that, I think, in any business,” he went on to say. “The key thing to me is that at the end of the day, I’ve got to make decisions that I feel are best for the Bulls organization that we communicate, we talk about and once the decision is made, we unite and we continue to move forward.
“At the end of the day, Tom is going to recommend who he wants hired. At the end of the day, I’ve got final say over personnel, as far as coaches. But in the past, obviously if I felt comfortable with it and Tom wanted a guy, that’s the direction we’re going to go.”
Adams was the most senior member of the Bulls’ coaching staff and had good relationships with the players, but while the move was a surprise, he wasn’t unfamiliar to Bulls management, meaning that whatever Forman and the rest of the front office saw as problematic about him is unlikely to be a new development.
“We make tens, if not hundreds of decisions every year and we make decisions on everything, from free agency to trades to drafts, which we just went through, to different personnel within the organization. We make a lot of different decisions and when we make a decision like this, I don’t think it serves anybody well to go into detail of why the decision was made. The decision was made by me because I felt it was the best decision for the Bulls moving forward and at the end of the day, those are the decisions that I have to make. Again, whether it’s personnel or players or whatever it may be, there’s a process in place. There’s obviously a lot of talk, a lot of communication with our staff,” Forman said. “I don’t think we want to evaluate every decision and who’s on board.
“Tom obviously makes the decisions on the floor. He’s our head coach. I think he’s as good as coach as there is in the NBA. He’s a great coach. I think he does a good job. Do I agree with absolutely every decision he makes? We’ll communicate, probably not. But at the end of the day, I’m going to support decisions he makes and I think he’s going to support decisions I make and again, as long as once they’re made, we unite and move forward because the goal is to get this team better and to compete for a championship as we move forward.”
The organization hasn’t started the process of replacing Adams, according to Forman, nor have the Bulls decided on who will be the staff’s new lead assistant, though it can be presumed that role will go to either Adrian Griffin or Ed Pinckney, the latter of whom is being pursued for that opportunity in Memphis, where he interviewed for the since-filled head-coaching vacancy.
“The rest of the staff remains in place and under contract. As far as adding to the staff, that’s something we’ll be discussing here over the next couple of days and we’ll see how we want to address that,” Forman said. “[Naming a new lead assistant coach is] something, over the nest couple of days or couple weeks, something we’ll be discussing, as far as staffing, but at this point, we haven’t done anything.