Bulls lie again? Does it even matter? The franchise has a serious image problem

By Wednesday evening, it was once again hard to tell who was lying, who was telling the truth, or who was just dealing with hurt feelings.

In one afternoon report, former Bulls big man Bobby Portis implied that general manager Gar Forman lied to him about trading him. Later in the day, however, Portis walked back his statements, insisting that he was over all the drama from last week.

So which side to take?

And there’s the problem with Bulls basketball these days.

There’s sides to take far too often. Players and coaches just can’t quietly leave the organization without shots being fired from one side, the other, or both.

There’s a serious perception problem with this organization that just isn’t going away.

In the last five years alone, messy breakups included coach Tom Thibodeau, coach Fred Hoiberg, center Joakim Noah, forwards Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng, guard Derrick Rose, guard Jimmy Butler, and now Portis.

Time has healed some of those wounds. Some, not even close.

Obviously, the Thibodeau and Butler breakups were the most volatile, with board chairman kicking Thibodeau while he was down with a statement, knowing that the coach had a clause in his contract that handcuffed him from firing back.

Then the gloves were off for Butler and his camp, with the most serious shot coming from Butler’s former trainer, insisting that the Bulls had “the worst culture in the league,’’ and that Gaines “met drug dealers with better morals than their GM.’’

Now there appears to be some pushback from Portis after he was sent to Washington – along with Jabari Parker – last Wednesday, for small forward Otto Porter.

Forman’s side of things have been very consistent. He has told the Sun-Times several times that he never makes promises to a player that they will or will not be traded, and also the market is fluid enough to where decisions can change with one phone call.

Either way, the Bulls have a serious clean-up on their hands because at some point they are going to try adding a big-name free agent to this rebuild, and that’s not easy to do when the reputation is that of a dumpster fire.

“People were treated with respect, and those situations are always difficult,’’ coach Jim Boylen said, when asked about the latest trade the Bulls made with the Wizards. “I thought we handled a really difficult situation as well as you can handle it.’’

What Boylen was asked, however, was about the perception problem and the idea of would he be able to convince a player of the Bulls culture when it’s time?

“Absolutely, absolutely, and I think our guys will communicate it too at the appropriate time,’’ Boylen said. “I’ve said it before our spirit is very, very good, so I feel comfortable sitting across the table from anybody about where we’re going and what we’re doing. We’ve got a young, exciting group. Otto is a huge addition, and Lauri Markkanen is becoming who we thought he could become. It’s good.’’

Coincidentally, Noah was in town with Memphis on Wednesday, and had his own spin on what’s gone on with his former franchise.

“It’s the least of my worries,’’ Noah said. “I know what the Bulls mean to this city, and basketball is about winning and losing games and they’ve got a young squad and trying to figure it out. When you play in a big market there’s a high demand but it’s just important to realize it’s never as good as people say it is, it’s never as bad as people say it is.’’

The Bulls better hope that’s the case.

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