Nick Knacks

Nick Knacks: The Bulls Missed an Opportunity to Fix Their Dysfunctional Front Office

Keith Allison | FlickrThe Bulls hired Doug Collins as a senior adviser Sept. 19, but he has reportedly been critical of the front office lately.

The Chicago Bulls hired former coach Doug Collins as a senior adviser Sept.19. While bringing Collins aboard is a great move, owner Jerry Reinsdorf missed an opportunity to make it even better. Collins needs to replace Gar Forman as general manager (GM).

Forman has been the Bulls’ GM since 2009. His predecessor, John Paxson, is the current executive vice president of basketball operations. The duo work closely to put the best team on the floor and have earned the nickname “GarPax.”

Forman started off strong in his role. He hired Tom Thibodeau — who would later become Coach of the Year — in 2010, drafted talented players such as Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose and shared 2011 NBA Executive of the Year award with Miami Heat GM Pat Riley.

But Forman has underperformed recently. He fired Thibodeau — a move I still disagree with — to hire current coach Fred Hoiberg, paid point guard Dwyane Wade $39 million for one underwhelming season and traded Gibson and Rose for practically nothing in return. The Gibson trade was instrumental in the Oklahoma City Thunder acquiring 10-time all star Carmelo Anthony Sept. 23, as two-thirds of the Gibson trade went to New York for Anthony.

ESPN predicted the Bulls will finish with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference this season, seven years removed from when the Bulls faced LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2011 Conference Finals. Given the downward spiral and Collins’ hiring, it would make sense that the Bulls would be preparing to fire Forman.

When the Bulls introduced Collins as senior adviser, Forman was not at the press conference. Only Paxson and Collins were scheduled to speak, which sparked speculation that Forman’s job was in jeopardy. This prompted many tweets, including one of my own, in regard to where Forman was.

While Paxson hasn’t done great work in his role, I think he should stick around. He played for Collins’ Bulls from 1986-89 and went to the playoffs all three seasons. The two have a great connection, and I think “Pax” would work better with Collins than he does with Forman.

Plus, Collins is a basketball genius. He has been involved with the NBA for more than 40 years — eight years as a player, 11 as a coach and the rest as a broadcaster and adviser. He was a four-time all-star with the Philadelphia 76ers and turned the Bulls from a 30-win team to a 50-win team in two seasons. His son, Chris, is the current men’s basketball head coach at Northwestern University, so he’s still in touch with how players develop in college and transition to the NBA. He’d be the perfect fit for an NBA GM.

In the conference, Paxson said Forman is safe in his position and Collins will not be making any calls. I, however, think that’s as accurate as Michael Jordan saying in 2000 that he wouldn’t come back to the NBA. (Spoiler: he played the next season).

I’ll be curious to see what happens with the Bulls’ front office. It appears that Reinsdorf is starting to get the hint that changes need to be made, but he doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that Forman is a big part of the problem.

If I was in Reinsdorf’s spot, I’d use this season as a gauge. If things don’t look up and the Bulls finish at the bottom of the NBA standings, I’d fire Forman and promote Collins to GM. That way, there are two people with playoff experience making the calls.

I also just think “DougPax” sounds better than “GarPax.” But that’s only a minor improvement.

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