So far, we have discussed how several members of the Chicago Bulls have performed this season, including the starting lineup, the bench unit and head coach Tom Thibodeau. Today, we take a look a the person who is responsible for acquiring the necessary players the team needs to become title contenders—Gar Forman.
Following an injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign, Forman and Co. were expected to challenge the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. But just like last season, disaster struck again when Derrick Rose went down with another season-ending knee injury in late November.
Initially, the Bulls struggled without their top scorer on the court, as they produced just six victories in 21 outings following a 6-3 start with Rose in the lineup. With the team’s championship aspirations out of reach once again, Forman opted to trade Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in early January.
And at that point, the season appeared to be spiraling out of control.
However, thanks to a team with a tough-minded head coach in Tom Thibodeau, and a group of players with a never-say-die attitude, the Bulls turned things around. In fact Chicago won 36 of its remaining 52 games and finished with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 48-34, which assured them home-court advantage through the first round of the playoffs.
And although their playoff run was short-lived, the Bulls gave their fans a season to remember.
So how did Mr. Forman do in what proved to be another difficult year for the Bulls? To answer this, let’s take a glimpse back at his 2013-14 season, including season highlight/lowlight, memorable quote and my final grade.
Without Rose in the lineup for the second straight season, the Bulls were in need of a player who could come off the bench and run the offense behind Kirk Hinrich. How did Forman address this need?
He acquired D.J. Augustin, who was released by the Toronto Raptors.
What was the result of this signing? Well, not only did Augustin lead the Bulls in scoring with 14.9 points per contest, he was also second on the team in assists with five per outing.
In addition to that, Tom Thibodeau described Augustin as the player who helped save the Bulls season, which is very high praise from a coach who doesn’t give out complements of this nature too often.
Another key acquisition for the Bulls was Jimmer Fredette, who began the season with the Sacramento Kings. Although Fredette did not see a lot of playing time under Thibodeau, he did make the most of the one instance he was given extended minutes.
The moment in question took place in a home game against the Orlando Magic on April 14.
In that contest, Fredette scored 17 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists. One can only wonder what type of player Fredette could have been if he was given more opportunities to showcase his talent.
After overcoming the odds during the regular season, the Bulls did not have the same success in the playoffs. Despite the fact they were facing a Washington Wizards team that was making their first playoff appearance in six years, the Bulls were quickly eliminated in five games—marking the second time in three years that Chicago’s playoff run ended with a first-round exit.
One of the notable questions that was asked following Chicago’s early playoff demise is whether or not the team would use the amnesty clause on forward Carlos Boozer. And according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, Forman offered this assessment:
We know there’s been a lot written about that. We have valued Carlos. And I think Carlos has had a big part of our success the last four years. Obviously, we still have amnesty as an option that we haven’t used that a lot of teams have. That’s something as we go into July we’ll have to evaluate. If it’s something that makes sense as far as getting our team stronger, we may go that way. But we also may not go that way.
While Forman has been noncommittal on which direction the team will go with regards to Boozer, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the amnesty option is one that warrants serious consideration if they hope to make significant additions to the roster during the summer.
Final Grade: B+
For the second straight season, the front office was forced to assemble a roster on the fly due to the absence of Rose and Deng. Even though they came up short once again in the playoffs, the 2013-14 season can still be considered a successful one considering the circumstances.
Now, with the memory of another disappointing playoff run behind them, the focus will shift to the offseason. With free agency right around the corner, the team is expected to find a way to add an elite scorer to the roster to help take some of the pressure off Rose.
And two of the most notable names that have been mentioned in recent weeks are Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love—both of which would bring some much-needed firepower to a team that ranked last in the league in scoring at 93.7 points per contest. However, there is a good chance that the team could fail to land either player.
If that is the case, Forman may attempt to bring over European star Nikola Mirotic to play next season.
Overall, the Bulls were not a great team in 2013-14, but then again, no one should have expected them to be. And in spite of their offensive shortcomings, this group played with a lot of grit and determination, which is all an organization can ask of the players on the roster.
Regardless of what happens over the upcoming summer, the Bulls will be a better team next season with Rose back in the mix along with the addition of Doug McDermott, the sharpshooter from Creighton, who the team acquired from the Denver Nuggets with the No. 11 pick in the draft.
While these two factors alone will not transform the Bulls into a championship-caliber ball club, it should give them enough to advance past the first round of the postseason at the very least.
James Tillman is a staff writer for HoopsHabit.com and a sports contributor for Football Nation and Sports Kings/Pass The Pill. James is also a former Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @JTILLMAN9693.