I sat down with Gar Forman during the NBA Summer League and had a long conversation on various topics. The recorder was off, so the following is a paraphrase of our conversation.
We talked significantly about the salary cap, and how the Bulls work with it. He couldn’t tell me how much money the Bulls saved on Tim
Thomas’s buyout, but he did confirm that the Bulls saved enough money
to keep Aaron Gray on the qualifying offer to stay under the tax.
He also told me that there isn’t a hard limit at the luxury tax barrier
and that Jerry Reinsdorf has never set a limit at that spot. He said
the Bulls could go into the tax, but reiterated that they would need to
do so with purpose. A star player, a team ready to contend, something
that would make paying the tax logical for the long term health of the
Which of course makes sense. No team is going into the tax unless
they feel it’s helping the team significantly in the long term or short
term. It makes little sense to spend the money unless it impacts
winning a significant amount.
We spoke about Ben Gordon, and he asked me to whom I would prefer: Ben
Gordon or Kirk Hinrich. I said it would depend. To me, on a value
contract, Ben Gordon was better, but if it was going to cost 12 million
to keep Ben Gordon as it likely would have this year, that I liked Kirk
I also mentioned how I felt neither was a great long term fit next to
Rose, but Hinrich’s contract ended the year Rose required a big
extension which worked better from a cap management perspective than
Ben Gordon on a five or six year deal.
Gar raised the question about losing Ben Gordon for nothing and made
the following points. First, the team gained flexibility in 2010.
If you’ve been reading anything I’ve written for the past few years
then you know how much I value that as an asset. They also made the
Miller/Salmons trade knowing that doing so might cost them the
flexibility to resign Ben.
However, in that trade, the Bulls brought in two assets who helped the
team considerably and will continue to help the team this year while
clearing out a bad long-term contract. Those assets weren’t brought
in for Ben Gordon, but they occupy the space that would have gone to
I asked about what the Bulls requested of Rose, Noah, and Tyrus during
the summer. He answered that the primary thing he hoped to see them
improve in was strength. I presume he was focusing in on Noah and
Tyrus with statement. He said that everyone has been working out
really hard and the Bulls young guys were having very productive
He reiterated that Luol Deng is 100% healthy, and that he’s working out three times a day.
I asked him whether or not the Bulls were going to talk extension with
Tyrus Thomas. My theory has long been that the Bulls wouldn’t offer
an extension to Tyrus in order to save 2010 cap space. Gar couldn’t comment on any on going negotiations, but I still maintain Tyrus will likely wait a year.
It’s also clear that Gar is a big James Johnson fan, much like
myself. He said Johnson can definitely play the three or the four,
but agreed with me when I noted that there seemed to be more minutes
available at the four.
All in all, Gar Forman was a straight shooter, generous with his time,
and one of the friendliest guys I’ve met at a basketball function. I
left the gym feeling much better about the Bulls future than when I