The days of the Bulls’ front office not being truly accountable have to end

Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have set the bar at the playoffs. There has to be accountability if the Bulls fall short this season.

SHARE The days of the Bulls’ front office not being truly accountable have to end

Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson need to be held accountable if the team’s ongoing rebuild doesn’t show concrete progress.

James Foster/For the Sun-Times

You know who was truly accountable when he was with the Bulls?

Former coach Tom Thibodeau.

He walked it, talked it and was accountable beyond the end, even taking the high road when the entire organization was publicly trying to tarnish his reputation after it had already shoved him out the door.

So, which player was accountable?

How about Jimmy Butler, who had no problem calling out anyone in the locker room — mostly himself — when things went wrong. The always-grinding Butler even took it upon himself to recruit for the front office before the higher-ups inevitably pulled the plug on him with a trade, opting to go the rebuild route in 2017.

Since then?

Sure, Jim Boylen has never run from his responsibility since taking over for Fred Hoiberg last December, but coaches are supposed to fall on the sword when the road gets bumpy.

Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman, however, are most responsible for the Bulls’ plight, and they have been patted on the head far too often for bringing home a C-minus paper.

“We take that very seriously, being accountable,’’ Forman said. “And we will continue to.’’

That’s nice to hear, but there have to be consequences to be genuinely accountable. There has to be a cliff to drop off of when the failures keep accumulating. You can’t just keep blaming disappointment on the coaches you hired and the rosters you built.

That’s a slap in the face to a fan base that has been loyal almost to a fault.

But maybe the accountability factor will finally encompass Paxson and Forman this season.

Ownership — as well as Forman, Paxson and Boylen — has not been shy about stating the goal for 2019-20. A playoff run, in all likelihood a short one, is the aim in Year 3 of the rebuild with the roster that has been assembled.

To a man, that’s the talk coming out of the Advocate Center throughout the week.

“We think we can compete,’’ Paxson said. “And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal.’’


But what happens if that goal is not reached? The excuse tree has run out of leaves. What then?

Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf are pillars of loyalty, but at some point, ownership has to stop turning a blind eye to the obvious.

On one side of town, Jerry Reinsdorf has allowed White Sox vice president of baseball operations Ken Williams to undercut general manager Rick Hahn far too often, while keeping a snitch of a pitching coach in Don Cooper on a seemingly lifetime scholarship.

And on the Bulls side, well, the record and the coaching changes speak for themselves.

It was a good sign that Forman was front and center Monday.

The organization has gone out of its way to hide Forman the last few seasons, even keeping his contract extension in the dark. The fact that he’s once again in the public eye could be that first step back toward true accountability.

Wishful thinking?

That’s about all that’s left at this point.

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