By K.C. Johnson
8:17 p.m. CDT, June 29, 2013
In a surprising move, a league source said the Bulls will not renew the contract of lead assistant coach Ron Adams, whose deal expires Sunday.
Adams, in his second stint with the Bulls, returned in 2010 after a successful run as Scott Brooks’ lead assistant in Oklahoma City. Adams left the Thunder in part to join longtime friend Tom Thibodeau’s first staff and also to live again with his family. It had remained in the Chicago area for school reasons following Adams’ first stint with the Bulls under Scott Skiles.
According to sources, general manager Gar Forman made the decision, not Thibodeau. Forman informed Adams on Friday.
Reached Saturday, Forman said the team doesn’t comment on personnel matters. Adams also declined comment. A call to Thibodeau wasn’t returned.
The move raised eyebrows within and outside the organization as perhaps the first public indication of tension between Forman and Thibodeau. Though management has final say, head coaches typically are in charge of their staffs and the Bulls have made three straight playoff appearances. Thibodeau, for instance, let go Pete Myers when he first took over, a longtime franchise fixture.
Adams, who had been working on one-year deals since leaving the Thunder, consistently ranked among leaders in voting for the league’s top assistants on the annual general managers’ poll the NBA releases. Players praised Adams for his developmental work, particularly in improving form and release points on jump shots.
Sources said Forman objected to Adams’ displeasure with personnel decisions. Other unknown factors obviously could have factored in the decision as well.
The move also was read by some with ties to the organization as Forman making a power play on Thibodeau, who took his time signing the four-year, $17.5 million extension Forman announced publicly in October 2012. Thibodeau chalked the delay up to lawyer work on both sides plus his focus on the season, but management was puzzled by the drawn-out nature of the saga.
Publicly, Forman consistently has praised Thibodeau. As recently as Thursday night, Thibodeau complimented Forman and management for their work leading up to the selection of shooters Tony Snell and Erik Murphy in the NBA draft.
Sources said Adrian Griffin, who interviewed for the Pistons’ coaching job, could be promoted to lead assistant. It’s not certain that Adams’ spot will be replaced on staff. Assistant video coordinator Daisuke Yoshimoto is well-regarded within the organization and league.
Adams could land back with the Thunder, who have an opening after Maurice Cheeks left to take the Pistons’ top job. Adams also drew interest earlier this offseason from other unknown teams.
In other coaching news, former Bulls and Celtics fan favorite Brian Scalabrine is close to finalizing a deal to join Mark Jackson’s staff in Golden State.