PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite all the screams from the outside the last several years, Bulls insiders have been consistent when it comes to general manager Gar Forman and his job security.
It has always been believed that Forman was a part of the family in the eyes of ownership.
Still, this season was a bit of an eye-opener. Not only was it reiterated that Forman is embraced by the family, but he’s actually untouchable.
No other GM in the NBA would still have a job with Forman’s track record. The final straw should have been on Dec. 3, when coach Fred Hoiberg was fired. Forman handpicked Hoiberg months before former coach Tom Thibodeau was ousted — again, by Forman.
Hoiberg was Forman’s guy, but once the mild-mannered coach figured out Forman’s manipulative ways and asked those above the GM to keep him from hovering around the team and coaching staff, it was only a matter of time before they would part ways.
Despite all of this, Forman, who was quietly rewarded with a contract extension last year, came out unscathed after Hoiberg was let go.
With the Bulls now at the halfway point with a 10-31 record, Forman’s untouchable standing with his bosses still comes in as the biggest surprise.
First half MVP: Zach LaVine
He’s healthy, and at least through the first month of the season was making a case to be an All-Star. If it was up to the Bulls, though, Lauri Markkanen would be the team MVP. But he’s still trying to find his shot since recovering from elbow surgery and has been tentative at times to take over games.
LaVine is living up to his contract extension so far.
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First half disappointment: Jabari Parker
The Bulls needed defense and outside shooting this season, but Parker has provided neither. Actually, a source close to Hoiberg joked that when Parker was signed in the offseason, it would eventually get Hoiberg fired. So far, it’s not a funny joke.
Parker’s return to Chicago was hyped as a homecoming, but now smells of a poorly executed PR stunt.
Biggest injury: Lauri Markkanen
There have been numerous injuries this season, but none reshaped the path of the organization more than Markkanen’s elbow injury suffered in training camp.
“In fairness to him, it’s safe to say that thing isn’t 100 percent yet,’’ coach Jim Boylen said Thursday of Markkanen’s elbow. “Is it close? Yeah. It’s gotta stick in his mind. That was a very serious injury, and maybe what people don’t realize is that it is a very painful injury. Yeah, it’s going to take some time.’’
Best moment: Boylen back in San Antonio
Not only did Boylen get the win against his former team where he was an assistant coach for several years, but it showed that his players were starting to buy in to his plan after well-publicized pushback from players was squashed a week earlier.
Worst moment: Letting Hoiberg go before everyone was healthy
Hoiberg was led to believe that he would have the opportunity to stick around once he had a healthy roster. Whether he deserved to be fired has been debated, but the timing of it was so Bulls.