Bulls

Is GM Gar Forman being pushed out? Some Bulls fans might not like the answer

There are sightings of Bulls general manager Gar Forman at home games. A glance into the front office’s United Center suite and there he sits, legs crossed.

He also has been seen at the Advocate Center.

He might have a quick chat with an assistant coach or stand next to vice president of basketball operations John Paxson as practice starts, but Forman has been seen far less than in previous seasons.

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All of it begs one crucial question: What the heck has become of Forman this season?

If there was a fan poll of the most disliked general manager currently overseeing a sports team in Chicago, there’s a good chance Forman would finish first.

The bad news for Forman haters and “Fire GarPax’’ billboard purchasers is Forman’s standing in the organization hasn’t changed.

What has changed is his public face time.

It is important to note that while the Bulls organization has often come across as stubborn, it is not completely tone deaf. A source within the organization told the Sun-Times late last season that the Bulls knew there was a problem with the perception of Forman.

Not just with the fan base, either.

Former Bulls players such as Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah had serious issues with Forman.

In May 2016, the Sun-Times reported that Noah felt Forman played both sides of the fence in Butler’s hostile takeover of the team leadership. Noah also felt that Forman’s influence had infiltrated the coaching staff.

Last season, the Sun-Times reported that Butler felt several assistant coaches were “Forman spies.’’ Butler also said Forman lied to him before he was traded. At the time of the trade, Butler’s long-time trainer Travelle Gaines tweeted: “I met drug dealers with better morals then their GM. He is a liar and everyone knows,’’ just hours after the deal went down.

Publicly, the organization has placed all of that under the “disgruntled players’’ file. Privately, there’s a reason Paxson is now front and center as the go-between with players and the front office.

Forman used to be a frequent face on team trips. Now it is all Paxson, partly because of the respect players have for him.

News conferences also have been taken out of Forman’s hands. He was available on media day at the start of camp, but any important news — especially delicate subjects such as the Nikola Mirotic-
Bobby Portis altercation — have been handled by Paxson.

Paxson, along with coach Fred Hoiberg, even handled Tuesday’s announcement of the upcoming lineup changes.

Why?

Because Paxson comes across as honest and transparent, a new
direction for this organization.

So where has Forman been hiding this season?

A high-ranking official reiterated Wednesday that Forman’s focus is on scouting for what the franchise considers critical decisions to be made in the June draft. Not only has Forman been all over the country, but he also went overseas to scout players such as Real Madrid standout Luka Doncic.

Also, according to the same source, Forman is by no means being pushed out.

Forman was instrumental in the Butler-Timberwolves draft-night trade. He also played a key role in landing a first-round pick for Nikola Mirotic in the trade with the Pelicans. So he deserves credit for those moves.

Like it or not, Forman remains fully entrenched in the Bulls’
family.

Follow me on Twitter
@suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com