Bulls’ Gar Forman and John Paxson won’t be judged by coaching changes

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INDIANAPOLIS — When Fred Hoiberg was fired Dec. 3, he became the latest coaching casualty under the Bulls’ current regime.

That body count also includes Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro and Tom Thibodeau, with a few interim names sprinkled in between.

So how many more hires should vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman get before the accountability reaches them? The rule of thumb in many front offices is that a GM, specifically, is allowed two to three hires before the ax eventually starts swinging in his direction.

But president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf said Paxson and Forman aren’t being judged by the number of coaches they go through.

‘‘I don’t blame John and Gar, necessarily, for all the different coaches,’’ Reinsdorf told the Sun-Times on Monday. ‘‘From an ownership standpoint, when it comes to the basketball side, probably the most important thing from the ownership side is to make sure you hire the right general manager. I don’t think that’s easy for a lot of owners, and the reason I don’t think it’s easy for a lot of owners is it’s a different industry that they’re not experts in.

‘‘Conversely, I think one of the hardest things — and I’ve talked to many general managers about this — for general managers is hiring coaches.’’

Reinsdorf said he thinks the process to hire a head coach needs to be more thorough. Just as teams put potential draft picks through a series of questions and situations, he said coaching candidates should have to go through a similar process.


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‘‘I think the process just needs to change on how you’re hiring coaches,’’ Reinsdorf said. ‘‘There is difficulty [because] you don’t truly know someone until they’re sitting in that office or they’re on that bench.’’

Reinsdorf said there’s a reason the Bulls are excited about moving forward with coach Jim Boylen.

“You knew Jim,” Reinsdorf said. “There were no surprises. Just like [former Bulls coach] Phil Jackson. When Phil Jackson was hired, they knew; they knew Phil. There were no surprises there.

‘‘From that perspective, it’s not just [Paxson’s and Forman’s] responsibility in hiring the coaches; we signed off on it. I’d also say that I wouldn’t change it anyway. Scott Skiles was still the right coach at that time, and Tom Thibodeau was the right coach at that time.

‘‘You’re just not always going to get it right with coaches, and I don’t think that should be a determination of how you grade your GM or your vice president of basketball operations. You have to look at it in totality. I know the decision-making that went in when we hired Fred and the decision-making when we let Fred go. Fred is a great person, and it just wasn’t working for the Chicago Bulls. At that point, you have to make the right decision for the Chicago Bulls, not the person that works for them.’’

Boylen previously had heard Paxson give him a vote of confidence and said Tuesday it was ‘‘a real blessing’’ to get that publicly from ownership.

‘‘I’ve said all along our communication has been great,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘ . . . They’ve allowed me to coach this team how I thought it needed to be coached. They’ve let me grow, too. I’m very thankful for what was said. That being said, we’ve got a lot of work to do still.’’

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