The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday after 10 years in the role and 22 years with the team.
The move came soon after the Bulls confirmed the hiring of Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas as the franchise's executive vice president of basketball operations, which ESPN reported last week.
The Bulls also announced Monday that John Paxson, who previously held Karnisovas' position, will stay with the team in the new role of senior adviser of basketball operations.
"Gar Forman worked tirelessly for the Chicago Bulls organization, first as a scout and then as an executive," team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "He made many significant contributions during his time here and helped to bring some of the brightest young basketball talent to our team, from Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to Jimmy Butler and Coby White. He has been a trusted advisor and friend to me over the years, and on behalf of everyone I want to thank him for his commitment to the organization. Gar will always be a part of our Bulls family."
Forman was named the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year. The Bulls reached the playoffs seven times during his tenure as general manager.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the Chicago Bulls for more than two decades," Forman said in the Bulls' statement. "There is no better ownership group in professional sports than the Reinsdorfs, and I want to thank Jerry and Michael for their support during my tenure. The Bulls organization will always hold a special place in my heart."
Karnisovas, who was formally introduced by the Bulls in a Zoom conference call on Monday, said it became apparent after consideration and conversation that he had "different philosophies" than Forman, which would prevent them from moving forward. Karnisovas said those decisions are never easy, but that he's "hired to affect change on the current situation."
"Our ultimate goal is clearly to bring an NBA championship to the city of Chicago," Karnisovas said during Monday's conference call. "That is what every team in the NBA strives for. All we can control is our approach and the process behind every decision. A firm foundation is absolutely vital. I'll build that here in Chicago. No skipping steps."
The timing of the hire was called into question, with the league currently on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. But Michael Reinsdorf, the Bulls' president and chief operating officer, said the downtime could be a positive for Karnisovas.
"In some ways, this gives him a better opportunity to talk to people and really get to know the organization," Reinsdorf said. "He can spend hours and hours on the phone with [coach] Jim Boylen, he can talk to all the scouts, he can have very in-depth conversations with the players.
"Because normally after the season, players are off and they're gone," Reinsdorf continued. "This actually allows him to gather as much information as he can so then when we start back up, it's seamless. So I looked at it actually as an opportunity, and that's why we moved."
Karnisovas replaces Paxson, who has held the title within the Bulls organization since 2003 and served as GM until Forman was hired until 2009.
"I've always tried to do what was best for our organization and put our team in position to succeed, and ultimately compete," Paxson said in a team statement. "I know Arturas will do the same. He brings the kind of talent, experience and commitment to collaboration that will allow him to succeed in his new role. I truly believe this is a great opportunity for the Bulls organization and that there are bright days ahead."
Karnisovas will be in charge of reshaping the front office and hiring a new GM, while trying to get the Bulls back into contention, despite being limited to what he can do right now.
Karnisovas is planning to start discussing Chicago's GM job with candidates soon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week. The pool is expected to include several assistant GMs: Calvin Booth (Denver), Marc Eversley (Philadelphia), Mark Hughes (LA Clippers) and Matt Lloyd (Orlando), among others.
There is no timeline for hiring a GM or making a decision about Boylen and his coaching staff. Karnisovas has started evaluating and communicating on the matter, though.
"In terms of talking to Jim, and the rest of the coaching staff, I've already started this process," Karnisovas said. "I'm going to do my comprehensive evaluation of every department and ensure that I give time."
Chicago hasn't won a playoff series since 2015 and was 22-43 this season before the league suspension.
Karnisovas, 48, has nearly two decades of front office experience in Denver and with the Houston Rockets. He played internationally in Spain, Italy and Greece. In 1996 with Barcelona, he was named FIBA's European Player of the Year, and led he the squad to Spanish League titles in 1996, 1997 and 2001.
Reinsdorf said that it was Paxson who first approached them around December, with regard to the organization making a change in the leadership and structure that would set the Bulls up for success for the next 10-15 years.
After an extensive search, Karnisovas is now the Bulls' guy as they begin a new chapter in the franchise.
Karnisovas says he's up for the challenge. He has already started working.
"In short term, what needs to happen is that we begin to establish a culture of who we are as a team and the expectations for winning," Karnisovas said. "Everybody wants to win, we just have to establish how we're going to do it and what we value."