Bulls VP John Paxson: Gar Forman ‘absolutely safe’ as GM


When the Bulls hired Fred Hoiberg as coach in 2015, General Manager Gar Forman sat next to Hoiberg at the introductory press conference.

When the Bulls fired Hoiberg yesterday, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson addressed the media.

The difference was striking.

Displeased with prior coach Tom Thibodeau, Forman targeted Hoiberg as a replacement long before officially ousting Thibodeau. Forman and Hoiberg go way back. Forman was an Iowa State assistant coach when Hoiberg played there, and Hoiberg even sold Forman his house in 2003. Forman pitched Hoiberg as innovator who’d modernize Chicago’s offense and improve morale.

That never materialized, in part due to the rosters Hoiberg was given. However you divide blame between the coach management, management chose both the coach and players.

So, where did that leave Forman yesterday?


First of all, the belief that Gar solely made that decision was wrong. Always have been. Those are reports. We can’t battle everything. I was 100 percent on board with hiring Fred. Jerry and Michael were 100 percent on board with hiring Fred. I work with Gar every day, and I understand his internal value to this organization.

As far as speaking, I am the spokesman as the executive vice president of the Bulls. Gar has a role. We work in tandem together. We make decisions together. But I am the person who’s going to stand up in front and talk about why we do certain things. And that’s just the way it is. It’s not that he’s not talking because he doesn’t want to. It’s because I choose to speak for this organization.

And I feel passionately about his role with us. And we’ve made some great decisions in terms of young personnel the last couple years. And as we have the opportunity to make more decisions, he will be front and center. We’ll work in tandem, and we hope to do the right things.

Gar is absolutely safe, yes.

Forman led the decision to hire Hoiberg. Paxson and owners Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf were on board. But Forman was the main person behind it.

Lately, Forman has taken a less-prominent role, maybe in part due to the Hoiberg flop. But that apparently doesn’t mean Forman will get fired.

Much to the chagrin of Bulls fans – and maybe even people within the organization. Many have just run out of patience with the GarPax regime.

But the results haven’t been as bad as many make it seem. Since naming Forman general manager, the Bulls have won 55% of their games and made the playoffs seven of 10 seasons. This will be just the second losing season (following last year), and they came only after the team chose to rebuild by trading Jimmy Butler.

Forman shouldn’t have absolute job security, and I wouldn’t have major objections to him getting fired now. But I don’t find it preposterous he’s getting a chance to help build the Bulls back up, either.

Kevin Durant keeps building up superstar accolades with second All-Star MVP

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CHARLOTTE – When Kevin Durant won All-Star MVP in 2012, he was asked whether he considered himself a star, a label he had resisted.

“I wouldn’t say that just yet,” Durant said. “Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that.”

The notion was silly then. Durant had already made two All-NBA first teams and finished second for MVP.

But that All-Star MVP started to change how Durant presented himself. He made another All-NBA first team, again finished second for MVP and led the Thunder to the NBA Finals that season.

“In 2012, I started to feel like I started to hit that elite level,” Durant said. “All that stuff in one year was pretty exciting to me.”

The hits have kept rolling since.

Durant has added an MVP, two titles and two Finals MVPs. Tonight, he claimed another All-Star MVP. The Warriors star scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead LeBron James‘ team to a 178-164 win.

“I just keep trying to rack them up, I guess,” Durant said.

That’s seven years between his All-Star MVPs. Few players sustain that elite level – starring among stars – so long. Only LeBron James (12 years), Michael Jordan (10 years), Kobe Bryant (nine years), Oscar Robertson (eight years) have gone so long between their first and last All-Star MVPs.

Durant, 30, appears to have plenty left in the tank.

Of course, the impending question: Where? Durant can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and this weekend included plenty of speculation.

Tonight’s game gave Knicks fans reason to fanaticize. New York’s presumed targets with its double-max cap space, Durant and Kyrie Irving showed strong chemistry. Half Durant’s baskets were assisted by Irving, who sent five of his six assists to Durant (the other an alley-oop to former teammate LeBron).

Asked which of his All-Star teammates he best meshed with, Durant refused to name one.

“You don’t really have to do too much when you’re playing with so many great players,” Durant said. “You can do what you’re just best at.”

Team LeBron starts playing defense first, comes from 20 down to win All-Star Game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s All-Star Game, Team LeBron started to care.

Down 20 at one point early in the third, Team LeBron came out of a mid-quarter timeout with a different energy. The “bench” guys on the court started defending with the kind of relative intensity usually reserved for the final minutes of this exhibition (when it’s close), the players on the bench were standing and cheering like it was a playoff game, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal started knocking down everything, and the game just shifted. It culminated when Damian Lillard tied the game up with a 35-foot three.

Team LeBron kept up the momentum, owned the fourth as Durant went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter, and Team LeBron got the win 178-164.

“It was our second unit that came in — Dame, Klay, Brad Beal, LaMarcus, Ben Simmons, KAT,” LeBron said after the game about what turned the momentum. “They came in and just changed the whole complexion of the game. We got stops, and, obviously, Dame and Klay caught fire from beyond the arc, and that allowed us to get back in the game.”

Durant was named MVP, a clear choice with his second-half play in particular.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 38 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul George showed anyone that hasn’t seen him this season how well he’s playing — MVP conversation level — on his way to 20.

This All-Star Game opened with the level of defensive intensity we have come to expect in All-Star Games. Which is to say none.

Well, except when Stephen Curry was guarding Klay Thompson.

The one guy who was intense from the start was Antetokounmpo, who scored the first six points for Team Giannis. He didn’t slow down on his way to 20 first-half points, plus he had one of the game’s great highlights on a bounce pass alley-oop from Curry.

Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only Buck hot to start, Khris Middleton entered the game midway through the first quarter and drained three shots from beyond the arc in a row. In the first nine minutes of the game, the Bucks were beating Team LeBron 28-27.

The favorite crowd moment of the first half was when future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki walked on the court and splashed a couple of threes.

Dwyane Wade was the other Commissioner addition to the game, which means for one last time we got Wade throwing the alley-oop to LeBron.

Curry struggled late, going 3-of-11 in the fourth, but he still got to rub it in Thompson’s face a little.

“It was good to see Steph knock that shot down over Klay, because Klay is always talking trash to him,” Durant said after the game.

Team Giannis was in control most of the first half and was up 13 (95-82) at the half, not that 13 points is much of a deficit in the All-Star Game. Not when one team started to care.

Stephen Curry gets four-point play after Klay Thompson foul, Curry does some taunting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Curry is enjoying going against Klay Thompson. Maybe a little too much.

In the first half, Curry was matched up on his Warriors’ backcourt mate and enjoyed that Thompson missed the shot.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the game tight, Curry drained the contested three and drew the and-1 on Thompson — and did a little taunting.

That’s some All-Star fun.

Stephen Curry bounces alley-oop way above rim, Giannis Antetokounmpo slams it down (video)

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CHARLOTTE – Stephen Curry bounced this so high!

I suppose it helps that Giannis Antetokounmpo has such ridiculous reach.