Some discord is good for Bulls
No, this isn't always one happy family.
The Chicago Bulls are a basketball team, which is a business -- and a particularly unique one at that -- and everyone doesn't always get along or agree with each other.
That's what Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Monday when pressed about the surprising firing of assistant coach Ron Adams, Tom Thibodeau's top assistant and a very popular coach among players in his two stints with the team.
I've heard the term "Thibodeau with a personality" to describe Adams.
Thibodeau isn't happy about the loss, and the Bulls certainly aren't happy about the publicity surrounding this move.
But you know what makes everyone happy: Winning.
Thibodeau chose the Bulls because he knew he could win here. That's why he drives his players so hard, why he treats every possession like it could be his last. That's why he's worth the big contract.
Last season was nearly submarined by the circus surrounding Derrick Rose's injury and the lack of his return. With Rose back, winning should be the only cause of concern this coming season.
The signing of three-point specialist Mike Dunleavy Jr. on Monday helps that cause.
That the Bulls front office and Thibodeau aren't always in lockstep isn't a secret to the reporters who cover the team. Thibodeau is good to his coaches and his players respect him, but he does things his way. His way, not always the "Bulls way." Let's just say he's not the most popular guy at the Berto Center or the United Center.
John Paxson and Forman have their own ideas when it comes to personnel, the salary cap and, perhaps, the way the Bulls seem to get run down late in the season.
While Paxson and Forman are good at their jobs, Thibodeau is great at his. And there should be some natural tension between the front office and the coaching staff. Not Jerry Krause-Phil Jackson at their worst tension, but a little discomfort isn't going to ruin a good thing, unless they let it.
I think firing Adams was the wrong move, if only because a coach of Thibodeau's stature should have the final say on his staff, especially his lead assistant.
This move could be the harbinger for more discord in a franchise that has been lousy dealing with it under Jerry Reinsdorf's otherwise successful tenure. Or it could be a speed bump on the road to another title.
We won't know which until the season starts.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
There's nothing to worry about
At some point, we have to take men at their word.
"I think Tom (Thibodeau) and I have a very good working relationship ... 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."
There is no reason for Gar Forman to lie to or mislead us. But he is a GM. And as is true of most GMs, he has an innate ability to sidestep the truth of what is really going on. That's his job.
And in the curious case of Ron Adams, Tom Thibodeau's friend and lead assistant, there does seem to be reason to doubt the words that came out of Forman's mouth.
Is there a beef/rift/problem between Thibs and Gar? Probably not. At least, not right now. Granted, they probably aren't speaking much (anyone that is married totally understands that one). But that's not to say that when things go bad -- as they always do in these head coach/GM marriages -- we can mark this as the moment where it all began to fall apart.
Thibs is too strong to be affected by Forman's actions, which are within his executive power. With or without Adams, Thibs will be focused on what he has to do with his team over the next 11 months.
And even if we are to believe the reports/rumors coming from inside the Bulls camp, it must be understood that when the two disagree (which will be put to test in the upcoming weeks with free agent signings and non-signings), they know that every move is made with the best interests of the team at heart.
Both know that the other is not going to purposefully jeopardize the franchise, what they have built or what is at stake. As long as that mantra remains the centerpiece of how Forman and Thibs operate, then there is no real story here.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.