Jeff Van Gundy, who maintains a very close friendship with Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, believes Gar Forman's decision to fire Thibodeau's top assistant could signal a rift in the organization and could get in the way of what's best for the Bulls.
Forman fired Ron Adams, who was part of a staff that guided the Bulls to the NBA's best regular-season record in two of the past three seasons, on Tuesday without any explanation.
"I would liken it to if you have the Chicago Bears and you have a head coach who wanted to have a certain offensive coordinator and in an embarrassing fashion the GM came in and fired that guy," Van Gundy said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I would say certainly it seems like something is wrong. I read something in one of the Chicago news (stories) today that it does seem like a shot at Thibodeau, and for what reason I don't know. I don't pretend to be in the know there, but it certainly seems like something is amiss.
"And it's unfortunate because when you get in the situation the Bulls are in with a great player and pretty good players that surround that great player in Derrick Rose, you really have an opportunity. But most teams beat themselves from within, versus another team beating them. These types of little dust-ups and grabs for power usually get in the way of what's best for the team, and unfortunately it really harms the end result. And you hope if there is a problem or a rift that they're able to solve it, because they do have a pretty good team with a great player coming back, and really those three years there have been remarkable."
The Bulls and Thibodeau agreed to a four-year extension last October, but he didn't sign it until April, which raised eyebrows. Thibodeau said it just took time for lawyers to review it, but there had been stories that Thibodeau was upset he had to wait so long to be offered the extension considering his success and winning coach of the year honors.
"They have a remarkable coach and I'm not sure why you would want to hurt that remarkable coach or hurt that relationship with a remarkable coach, particularly one you've just given a long-term contract to," Van Gundy said.
Thibodeau was an assistant to Van Gundy in New York and Houston, and their friendship gives Van Gundy's analysis on the matter more weight.
"Management throughout the NBA now is taking more and more control over coaching staffs," said Van Gundy, who is an ESPN analyst. "I know this about Ron Adams, without knowing the inner workings of the Chicago Bulls, he is a great, great coach. He is completely devoted to the game of basketball.
"He and Thibodeau have a great friendship and working relationship, and so when you put all those things together, it seems like really strange timing. You just signed Tom Thibodeau to a long-term contract, and simultaneously you've taken away this guy who has meant so much to him and the Bulls' success. It's really, really odd too that it comes a day to two before his contract was to run out, so it really looks punitive in that it prevented him from going out and looking for other jobs. I find it very unfortunate, because Ron Adams has been a true credit to the coaching profession."
The Bulls introduced their two draft picks on Tuesday and Forman initially was not going to talk about the Adams dismissal, but he came back down and said it was his decision.
"I think Tom and I have a very good working relationship ..." Forman said. "We're not always going to agree on everything. But at the end of the day I think we both have the best interests of the Bulls moving forward as what our goal is, and we unite and move forward."
Thibodeau's only comments came via a statement the Bulls released.
"Ron is a great friend, an outstanding coach and I will miss him," Thibodeau was quoted as saying.