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Thursday, June 7, 2012
Bulls recap: Forman/Paxson

By Nick Friedell



Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at the Bulls' personnel and see where they fit in for the future.

John Paxson & Gar Forman

Season recap: Forman and Paxson once again built a very good roster full of depth and talent. The Bulls led the league in wins for the second consecutive year and were built to contend for a title this season around Derrick Rose. The problem is that when Rose went down in Game 1 because of a torn ACL, the reserves, most of whom had played well all season, faltered against the Philadelphia 76ers. Obviously, Forman and Paxson can't be blamed for the fact that Rose and Joakim Noah (ankle) went down, the issue for the Bulls is that the losses only highlighted the fact that the team doesn't have another dominant scorer to take the pressure off Rose even when he was healthy.

Season highlight: Like coach Tom Thibodeau, the proudest moment for Forman and Paxson probably came on March 14 when the Bulls knocked off LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat without Derrick Rose. The Bulls' Bench Mob, led by John Lucas and Kyle Korver, helped lead the way as the Bulls pulled off their most emotional win of the year.

Season lowlight: For Forman and Paxson the lowlight is painfully obvious. When Rose went down in Game 1, the Bulls' title hopes went down with him. The organization's future became extremely cloudy in the process.

Notes: The Bulls' front office had to go through a bad public relations spell during the year when Marc Stein reported that Tom Thibodeau was unhappy with the way his contract situation was being handled. While both Thibodeau and Forman/Paxson have both come out on the record and stated that it's not an issue, the fact that the sides have not come together on an extension deserves attention throughout the summer.

Quotes: "Any time any of our players get hurt, obviously you're disappointed," Forman said the day after Rose's injury. "Our goal was to be 100 percent going into the playoffs which we felt we were. It's obviously disappointing for Derrick, it's disappointing for the organization ... I think the players feel that we've got enough to get it done and have success and certainly as a coaching staff and a front office, we've feel we've got enough to get it done and have success and we think we've proven that throughout the year. Our bench has been real key and when guys have gone down, other guys have stepped up. We'll continue to move forward."

What's next?: Forman and Paxson have a lot of tough decisions to make. Aside from the potential Thibodeau extension, they have to decide on the futures of several key reserves. Among those decisions: do they pick up the contracts of Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer? What about C.J. Watson's option? Do they match Omer Asik's deal if he is signed to an offer sheet by another team? How far into the luxury tax do they want to go? Who should they take in the draft? Those are just some of the things they must figure out as they prepare for next season.

Final grades: Regular Season: A. Postseason: C.