When Gar Forman succeeded John Paxson as general manager of the Bulls, the obvious question was,"Who's in charge here?" It appears fellow NBA executives are asking the same question.
In a mystifying quirk of the process for choosing the NBA's Executive of the Year, both Forman and Paxson received votes for the award, even though they work for the same team and by their own accounts share player personnel duties.
Forman was the co-winner of the award with Miami president Pat Riley. Paxson -- the Bulls' vice-president of basketball operations -- was third, ahead of the San Antonio Spurs' R.C. Buford. Neither salary-cap maven Irwin Mandel, the Bulls' senior vice-president for financial affairs, nor Steve Schanwald, vice-president of business operations, received a single vote.
When Forman was named the Bulls general manager and Paxson was named vice-president of basketball operations, it was seen by many as a cosmetic move designed to make Forman the "face" of the team with regard to personnel matters, while Paxson would still hold the authority on most, if not all, personnel decisions.
Clearly, even the rest of the NBA isn't sure how "Gar-Pax" actually works.
So which is it?
"We work together," Forman told the Sun-Times. "We've got a great working relationship. There's communication on a consistent basis. And [chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf's part of the decision-making process.
"Usually at the end of the day we're always on the same page. You look at corporate 500 [companies] -- there's not always one guy making the decision. The way it's set up, the day-to-day falls under my umbrella."
Personnel decisions, like signing Carlos Boozer or drafting Taj Gibson, are done on a consensus basis.
"Those were our decisions,'' Forman said. "We were all on the same page with the direction we were headed. We work together as a group. We really do."
But if Paxson wanted one player and Forman wanted another, which player do the Bulls acquire?
"I guess we've never gotten to the point where that's come about," Forman said. "I guess we'll when it comes about."