The assumption that Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson is leaving the organization at season's end, after persistent speculation that he nearly quit after the trade deadline, is still out there. But it really shouldn't be.
Sources with knowledge of the Bulls' thinking indicate that Paxson, while still very eager to relinquish day-to-day duties in Chicago's front office in spite of the Bulls' recent return to semi-prominence, is expected to stay in the organization as its senior basketball voice without losing much (if any) influence in big-ticket decision making.
In a scenario relayed by a few of his peers, Paxson would move into a still-to-be-defined role as a top adviser to Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, with director of player personnel Gar Forman taking over as the every-day personnel chief.
Such an alignment -- similar to Michael Jordan's arrangement in Charlotte, where Rod Higgins handles the daily duties -- would allow Paxson to continue to participate in the major trade and draft matters he enjoys while relinquishing the management headaches that have increasingly unsettled him. Shifting those duties to Forman would continue the expansion of a role that began to take shape last summer when Forman was asked by Reinsdorf to step in for Paxson on a good chunk of the Bulls' negotiations to re-sign forward Luol Deng.
"The best way to describe it," one insider says, "is that John is going to be moving up, not out."
(Emphasis mine, because that really tickled me.)
Man I hope this playoff run lasts a while, because I am not looking forward to whatever mess this team will make of itself between the offseason and when they fire Vinny this Christmas.
Though you never know, maybe the new alignment works. I'll give them a chance. To front office amalgam Gar Paxdorf!