Posts Tagged ‘Gar Forman’

Soon, D-Rose’s Return Won’t Be Just A Long Sneaker Commercial

CHICAGO – The updates are coming more frequently now, and with each one, ever so briefly, the clouds that have hung over the Chicago Bulls’ season part. That’s when the sweet sunshine comes beaming through.

Derrick Rose is coming back. Every day, every hour, every minute, heck, every second, Rose and the Bulls get closer to a reunion that is expected to transform their season and restore Chicago to its rightful place at or near the top of the Eastern Conference.

“He’s in drills every morning with me,” forward Taj Gibson said Monday after the Bulls’ blowout home victory over Cleveland. “Every morning, going full steam. It just feels like he never left. He’s doing everything that he’d normally do. It’s been great the last couple weeks.”

The progress has been steady, the pace consistent, with new challenges and freedoms added, each in their own time. One week, Rose is shooting flat-footed. Then he’s cutting laterally in drill work. Or dunking behind closed doors. Lately, Rose has been been participating in walk-throughs, even speaking up at halftimes.

The volume of the reports is intensifying, even if the timetable for the ex-MVP point guard’s first taste of NBA action hasn’t budged: Rose still isn’t expected back until after All-Star weekend, which means late February or early March.

The Bulls have a nice three-game homestand beginning Feb. 26 against Cleveland, with only one set of back-to-backs over the subsequent 26 days. The Cavaliers game would mark 10 months exactly from the date Rose tore the anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in Game 1 of the playoffs against Philadelphia. That puts it smack in the 8-to-12-month range surgeon Brian Cole laid out after Rose’s May 12 repair.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau talked Monday of Rose’s next test: regular practice. Once he is cleared for that, he will be monitored closely both on the court and in recovery.

At the moment, Rose is doing “predictable contact.” “It’s knowing what’s coming,” Thibodeau explained to reporters. “He’s handled that part great. He’s done a little 1-on-1. But everyone has to be patient.” (more…)

Gibson, Bulls Beat Clock With $38M Deal





CHICAGO – Taj Gibson tried to answer the first question with a straight face, and failed miserably. Four or five words in, his smile broke through the clouds and spread ear to ear.

From there, the Chicago Bulls forward’s expression told the tale. While he dressed after is team’s 93-87 victory over Sacramento Wednesday at United Center, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, was upstairs with Bulls management. The business at hand: Crossing T’s and dotting I’s on a four-year contract extension worth $38 million, about 50 minutes before the NBA deadline for such deals.

“This is where I want to be,” Gibson said. “Both sides just came together and got it done.”

He added: “I didn’t want to go through [the season without a deal]. To turn down, that’s a lot of money. Especially for the security. I’m relieved.”

Four hours earlier, Gibson looked despondent. The gap in the negotiations was too great, and the fourth-year forward from USC doubted whether it would get done at all. It nagged at him a little as he played — four blocked shots but modest otherwise, with four points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. Then the horn blew, the Bulls won and Gibson knew that the 11 p.m. CT cutoff was fast approaching. (more…)

Bulls’ Gibson, Others Face Deal Cutoff





HANG TIME CHICAGO – Maybe, if the Chicago Bulls get a deal done with forward Taj Gibson close to tipoff of their 2012-13 season opener against Sacramento, they can have him sign it at midcourt. Imagine the Opening Night drama of a darkened arena, save for one spotlight on Gibson as he puts pen to paper on the back of Benny The Bull.

Maybe the contract extension talks that still had the player and his team several million dollars apart goes right to the witching hour (midnight ET / 11 p.m. CT) before they’re complete. This is, after all, Halloween.

Or maybe the Bulls and Gibson, their valuable and still-budding big man off the bench, don’t come to terms at all. That would throw yet another looming question over a team already playing under a cloud of uncertainty over Derrick Rose‘s comeback from knee surgery.

Chicago has three options with Gibson. Once the deadline for fourth-year players such as himself, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and a few others, Gibson and the Bulls will be down to one:

  • Option 1: Reach an agreement on a four-year, multimillion deal that keeps Gibson in Chicago’s rotation and plans for the long haul. The two sides were said to be about $8 million apart over the contract’s value, the Chicago Tribune reported.
  • Option 2: Hit the deadline without a deal. Gibson would become a restricted free agent in July and the Bulls would be able to match any offer sheets that came his way. This is like signing your guy now, only letting some general manager other than Gar Forman negotiate the price.
  • Option 3: Go all James Harden on Gibson and his agent, Mark Bartelstein.

(more…)

Report: Bulls, Thibodeau Talking Again




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – After taking a little summer vacation from the negotiating table, the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau have resumed talks about a long-term extension for the fastest coach to 100 wins in NBA history.

The Bulls have been standouts in Thibodeau’s first two seasons, leading the league in wins during the regular season both times. Thibodeau was Coach of the Year after his first season and finished second last season. You’d think there was nothing to negotiate but how long Thibodeau wanted his contract. But somehow, things broke down earlier this summer.

But with the start of training camp just weeks away, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com reports that the two sides are back at work on an extension:

Reports surfaced last season that Thibodeau was unhappy he did not have an extension secured. Forman then appeared on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000 and stated that talks had begun before last season and would resume after the season.

Thibodeau and Forman did not immediately return phone messages.

Bulls players, notably Derrick Rose, have been vocal in support of their coach. While Thibodeau has a hard-charging mentality, Bulls players respect the way he prepares and appreciate his work ethic.

ESPN analyst and Thibodeau friend Jeff Van Gundy recently told ESPNChicago.com’s Melissa Isaacson that Thibodeau’s potential new deal “seems like the easiest negotiation of all time.”

“If I was (the Bulls) and Tom agreed to what (Oklahoma City’s) Scott Brooks got (a reported four-year deal worth approximately $18 million), the whole thing would take 25 seconds,” said Van Gundy, who hired Thibodeau as an assistant with the New York Knicks. “It’s a no-brainer … My thing is he’s an elite coach and should be paid like one.”

There’s no doubt about that.

Thibodeau is absolutely an elite coach, one of the very best in the business. And he’ll have to prove it this season with the uncertainty surrounding Rose’s return (and just how healthy the Bulls’ superstar will be this season).

What’s Blowing Through Chicago?





HANG TIME, Texas – Close your eyes and think of those days when the Bulls were a mean, snorting threat to win it all. Try to remember way back when they took the floor with their heads down, horns sharp, pawing at the dirt, ready to challenge LeBron James and the Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy and make a run at their first championship since the Jordan Era.

Was it just three months ago?

From the moment Derrick Rose crumpled in a heap at the end of the playoff opener against Philadelphia, a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, it was obvious that 2012-13 was going to be a different kind of season in Chicago.

But this summer has been more like Extreme Makeover: Lake Michigan Edition.

Kyle Korver has been shipped off to Atlanta. C.J. Watson is now in Brooklyn. Omer Asik is the latest to hit the door, landing in Houston when the Bulls chose not to match a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet.

As noted by our well-respected friend Rick Telander in the Chicago Sun-Times:

A Bulls team that last offseason seemed so improved, so solid, so primed to take on the Miami Heat and go for the NBA crown, with fine starters and a feisty Bench Mob, isn’t exactly a memory, but it’s a fading vapor. (more…)

Gibson Wants To Remain In Chicago





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – If he has his way, Taj Gibson will wear a Chicago Bulls uniform for years to come.

While many of his contemporaries have created ways to exit their particular situations around the league, the Bulls’ power forward is looking to make sure he maintains his with a contract extension. Gibson will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season but has no interest in testing those waters.

Gibson said as much Thursday, telling ESPNChicago.com‘s Nick Friedell that whenever the Bulls get around to it, he’s ready to get something done:

“Really, it doesn’t matter (when it happens),” Gibson said. “I told (general manager) Gar (Forman) and (vice president John Paxson) how committed I am to just being with the Bulls. It’s not a thought in my head to leave Chicago because I love playing for the Bulls.

“I love wearing the Bulls logo across my chest. So that’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now. Right now, I’m just thinking about next year. Just come in and figure out how I can try to help the team better and just let the chips fall in place. A lot of guys tend to worry about that stuff, but I know I have a good agent in Mark Bartelstein and I have a lot of faith in what he does and I know I have a lot of faith in the Bulls organization so I’m just relaxing and practicing.

“I believe my future is here. Either mid-July or next year (for an extension), just have to be patient and just wait and see.”

(more…)

Thibodeau’s Boss Won’t Play Blame Game





DEERFIELD, Ill. — No one was storming the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility Sunday with torches and pitchforks, demanding Tom Thibodeau’s head on a pike. Those who were blaming the Bulls head coach for the catastrophic, postseason-snuffing knee injury to MVP guard Derrick Rose most stuck to the taverns, the airwaves and the Internet.

Still, with Rose done for the playoffs — he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee with 80 seconds left in Chicago’s 103-91 victory in Game 1 of its series against Philadelphia Saturday — and his team’s prospects for a Finals run looking bleak, some folks continued to wonder why Rose even was in the game at that point. The Bulls were up 12, at home. Heck, Sixers coach Doug Collins even had starters Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand on the bench.

“Hey look, you make those decisions based on what’s going on in the game. That’s what I did,” Thibodeau said, re-visiting the topic Sunday. “Now looking back, I don’t think there was a problem. It was a 12-point game with a minute and a half to go.”

Chicago’s lead had been 20 three minutes earlier. Rose had played sparingly, appearing in only six of 17 games through Saturday, and was in his 38th minute when his ACL snapped. Players from both locker rooms backed Thibodeau, as did Collins. And Bulls’ veteran Richard Hamilton noted that, early in a playoff series, you don’t want to give an opponent anything that might build carryover confidence — like a score-tightening comeback.

Thibodeau bristled after the game when asked about Rose’s late minutes. But a day later, he said he was OK with the second-guessing. “Nah, that goes with the territory,” he said. “Everyone has a job to do, I understand that part of it. You try to make the best decision for the team.”

Gar Forman, the Bulls’ general manager and one of Thibodeau’s bosses, brushed off the complaints. He and the organization believe Rose’s blown knee was a “freak-type injury” that could have happened early in a game or even in practice.

“There is absolutely no issue there,” Forman said. “It’s a playoff game. They had cut a lead down to 12. We’re going to have our guys on the floor making sure we win the game.” (more…)

No “Structural Damage” For Rose





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Bulls fans can go ahead and exhale now.

Derrick Rose has no structural damage to his back, per a report from ESPNChicago.com. A Monday morning MRI on his back showed no major issues and Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose’s back issues will continue to be treated on a daily basis as the reigning league MVP battles yet another injury this season.

Rose has missed five games this season with a turf toe issues and two others because of his back. The Bulls have maintained their position atop the Eastern Conference standings this season even without their best player in the lineup.

That said, in the day and weeks ahead, they’ll have to keep a close eye on Rose’s back to keep his current problems from lingering. Forman told Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com that Rose will get around the clock attention:

“The course of action we’ve been taking we’ll continue with, and that is the constant therapy, the massage, and working with our medical staff,” Forman said. “You don’t know when it’s muscular like this. It could respond overnight, it could be a couple days, you just don’t know. But the positive is that the MRI was negative and structurally there’s nothing wrong.”

If there is a positive sign for Bulls fans, it’s that the MRI results didn’t show anything serious. But Rose’s fearless style of play will have Bulls fans holding their breath every time he makes a move.

In a compressed season where injuries to significant players have become a huge factor, the Bulls’ have already played seven games without All-Star forward Luol Deng, a lingering issue in Chicago looms larger than anything.

Bulls’ hard choice: Now or then?

How much closer would the Bulls be to hanging with — or beating — Miami’s Big Three if they had Courtney Lee or Jason Richardson in their lineup right now?

How many of those “six more titles” that Michael Jordan hinted at might still be out there with Omer Asik in the lineup down the road?

Those were the questions facing Gar Forman and John Paxson back at the February trade deadline and that is the dilemma they now find themselves in after the Heat’s 96-85 win in Game 3 on Sunday night.

As ESPN’s Michael Wilbon notes, the Bulls are paying the price right now for focusing on the long-term future:

Almost certainly it’ll pay off down the line, but the price the Bulls are paying in the conference finals is that the lack of a deal then means the Bulls don’t have enough offense now, not when Miami can send 6-foot-11 Chris Bosh and 6-8 LeBron James to double-team 6-3 Derrick Rose as happened more than a few times. Miami’s 96-85 Game 3 victory produced more than a few storylines, including Chris Bosh’s second huge game of the series.

But what should stand out even more is that the Bulls don’t have enough offense to beat Miami in a seven-game series. Back in late February when Forman and Paxson decided to put off finding a scorer to complement Rose until the summer, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said, “We’ll be able to beat good defenses, but against a team with great defense and scorers like Miami, we just won’t have enough firepower.”

As the Eastern Conference finals progress, we’re seeing more and more evidence of why Rose was the correct choice for MVP. He’s certainly had to do more of the heavy lifting and carry much more of the load for the Bulls.

The Heat can simply hand the baton off from James to Wade to Bosh in different games or in different quarters. But Rose has got to be the one driving Chicago on virtually every possession. And not coincidentally, when Rose is driving to the basket, Miami defenders have often been able to cut him off and prevent him from finishing.

As Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times observes, Rose is in over his head:

The Big Three scored a combined 73 points in Game 3.

If Rose doesn’t play his best when Miami is at its best, the Bulls don’t have much of a chance.

Now the focus falls on (coach Tom) Thibodeau. After most practices, he and Rose watch film together to see how best to attack the other team’s defense. Thibs is going to have to be refitted for his genius hat. He has to figure out ways to get Rose free in time for Game 4. If he doesn’t, how does a 3-1 Heat lead feel?

It seems obvious: The Bulls need to run. Let Rose create. Let him improvise. Let him go. Rose in a half-court offense against this good a Miami defense is suicide.

“I tried to let my teammates create for others,’’ he said. “That’s what I made the team try to do. Sometimes I tried to beat the double team, and sometimes I just tried to pass and make it easy.’’

And that’s just it: I don’t want to see Luol Deng trying to create. I want to see Rose doing the creating. The options are limited when the Bulls aren’t shooting well. Rose can dish off all he wants, but if his team shoots 41.6 from the floor, which it did Sunday, forget it.

Can the Bulls now flip the series around and win three of the next four games from the Heat? How much closer would they be to accomplishing that feat if they had another wing scorer/finisher like Lee or Richardson in their lineup?

Conventional wisdom in sports says that if you have a chance to win a championship, you reach out and grab it, then worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes while you’re already polishing your trophy.

But the 7-foot Asik is only 24 years old. He’s active and aggressive. He’s quick, he hustles, he’s improving constantly on offense and he is a big man who can defend the pick-and-roll. In other words, he’s exactly the kind of big man that every team in the league is seeking, which is why Houston and Orlando would have pulled the trigger on deals for Lee or Richardson in a heartbeat.

Will the Bulls regret not making the move sometime in the next two or three days if they can’t get past Miami in this series?

But what about the next two or three (or more) years?

It says here that Forman and Paxson may not have made the popular choice for now, but the right one for the future.

Forman thrilled by ‘team’ Exec award

CHICAGO – Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, “won” the biggest free-agent bonanza in NBA history when he got LeBron James and Chris Bosh to sign with his team, while getting Dwyane Wade to re-up rather than leave. Gar Forman, general manager of the Chicago Bulls, went after both James and Wade, then had to turn his attention and salary-cap space to Carlos Boozer and a group of role players on the open market.

But Forman’s team managed to win the most games in the NBA (62), while producing 2010-11′s Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year. That was good enough to earn Forman a share of the NBA Executive of the Year Award, sharing the honor with Miami’s Riley.

Forman and Riley each received 11 votes. Chicago’s vice president of basketball operations, John Paxson, was third with three votes in balloting of the 30 teams’ executives. So Forman was correct in calling it a “team award” — the Chicago front office combined for 14 votes.

His most satisfying move heading into this season? “The decision to hire [coach] Tom Thibodeau has been a grand slam,” said Forman, who has been with the Bulls for 13 seasons and moved into his current post in May 2009. “Tom has been a perfect fit for this team. Our players were dying for that type of accountability and discipline.”