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posted: 5/1/2014 5:30 AM

Is Gar Forman up to the task?

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  • Bulls GM Gar Forman

      Bulls GM Gar Forman


Perhaps the biggest mystery concerning the Bulls going forward is who and what Gar Forman is.

That was a question when the current season began and presumably would be answered by this time of the year.

Then Derrick Rose suffered his latest knee injury, management decided to trade Luol Deng for financial reasons and the Bulls lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Now we're right back where we started.

Where the Bulls will be on opening night next season, and then closing night, should finally provide clues as to whether Forman is a GM for all seasons.

This summer is considered pivotal to whether the Bulls point up or down or are destined to be stuck in the middle.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned after Washington eliminated his team from the playoffs that the franchise is positioned well to improve.

The Bulls do have two middling first-round picks in this June's draft and the NBA rights to European star Nikola Mirotic.

Most significantly in the Bulls' sights is Carmelo Anthony, whom they will have to lure away from the Knicks and Phil Jackson.

The Bulls have been here before, of course. They clear salary-cap room with the expectation of adding star free agents. Then they wind up with the likes of Carlos Boozer.

Gar Forman is assigned to reverse that trend this summer.

Forman will have to turn all these available chips into an elite NBA team, and to be honest, I still have no idea how good or bad a general manager he is.

After a few years in the job, Forman still can't be defined as the GM that built a regular-season success or postseason disappointment.

Thibodeau has a parallel record. Yet despite the issue of whether he wears out his players prior to the playoffs, he is considered a quality NBA coach.

The impression is that Tom Thibodeau will win a championship if given championship players. The Bulls' future comes down to whether Gar Forman can provide them.

I have no idea because Forman probably has the lowest profile of all the GMs in town.

Stan Bowman wins Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. Cubs' general manager Theo Epstein won World Series with the Red Sox. Bears' GM Phil Emery is a swirl of activity and verbiage. The White Sox' Rick Hahn was better known as an assistant general manager than Forman has been as a full-blown GM.

For a while, Forman's identity crisis could be attributed to the confusion over whether he was making personnel moves, Bulls' vice president John Paxson was or it was a GarPax production.

There's no confusion anymore. Forman was the architect of this Bulls' team and will be of the ones that follow.

So, how is Gar Forman viewed around the NBA? Is he respected as one of the better general managers? Or is he just a guy in the position?

A good guess is that the league isn't quite sure either whether Forman is the GM who makes good draft picks like Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler low in the first round or the GM that doesn't give Thibodeau enough reliable scorers.

More is at stake at this time in Bulls' history than merely building an elite team. It's maintaining an elite franchise.

The Bulls still are near the top in annual NBA attendance, but the winter sports focus here has shifted dramatically toward the Blackhawks.

Derrick Rose's return will restore some of the buzz, but he'll need significant help for the Bulls to become all they should be around town.

The next 12 months should solve the mystery of who and what Gar Forman is and whether he's a general manager good enough to acquire that help.

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