As front office rumors swirl for the Chicago Bulls in another lost season, everyone’s eyes are on John Paxson.
The Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations has been hit with the most criticism for the team’s failed rebuild, and rightfully so. However, while speculation about a possible shake-up in leadership has come in various forms, one constant has been Paxson’s continued job security, in one form or another.
According to the Daily Herald’s Mike McGraw, team sources have said they expect Paxson to move into a new “advisory role” this offseason, while a new leader of basketball operations is brought in from the outside. McGraw mentions, as we have, the Chicago White Sox moving Kenny Williams to a new position and allowing Rick Hahn to take over baseball operations. In all fairness, that seems to be working decently well for the Sox right now, and it doesn’t feel like the worst outcome in the world for the Bulls.
HOWEVA, if Paxson is (1) involved in the new hiring process, and (2) technically the “boss” of the new front office hire(s), how much change is really coming? McGraw argues that the key to this plan working out would be ensuring that the new hires report to the Reinsdorfs and not Paxson.
But we still don’t really know that’ll be the case.
For example, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson said he expects the opposite in his latest mailbag (emphasis added):
If there are changes, I’d expect a different title for Gar Forman, a revamp of the scouting department and a new voice from outside the organization to run day-to-day duties but report to Paxson. But other than ownership’s belief in Paxson, this is speculation on my part.
Speculation or not, other reports continue to ensure a future position for Paxson.
David Kaplan, who initially reported the Reinsdorfs would seek massive changes this offseason, doubled-down on the notion this past week. This time around though, he also mentioned that he believes Paxson would likely be “promoted” upstairs and work directly for the Reinsdorfs on his ESPN 1000 show Kap & Co. Then, the team will go out and hire a “very accomplished executive” who can hire his own head coach, scouting department, etc.
Is that Paxson as an “advisor” … or the boss of basketball ops? Your mileage may vary, and I think we still don’t truly know.
At the end of the day, a shift along this path does sound like a realistic outcome. While removing Paxson and Gar Forman entirely would be the most satisfying approach to many fans, simply removing them from controlling basketball operations feels like a small victory. For all of this to truly work out, though, the Reinsdorfs will have to limit Paxson’s role going forward. A situation where this new front office reports to him, as Johnson mentions, will not cut it.
Of course, as fewer seats are filled and more drama pops up, so much can change. But for now, no matter the reports, Paxson doesn’t appear to be leaving the organization entirely.