The Chicago Bulls were expected by many to contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. That hasn’t happened. And yet, John Paxson has great job security.
In spite of a grand opportunity with the bottom half of the East being softer than Silly Putty, the Bulls are languishing at 14-27 and sit five-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot.
While Chicago wasn’t supposed to be a serious contender or anything, I think most anticipated that the Bulls would be quite a bit closer to .500 than they are now.
The problems with Chicago this season have been well-documented.
Lauri Markkanen has strangely regressed, Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. have been hit with injuries and the offense has been nothing short of disastrous.
Still, in spite of the Bulls not appearing to have progressed much at all in what is now the third season of a long-overdue rebuild, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported on Tuesday that John Paxson’s job as vice president of basketball operations (and primary decision-maker) is safe.
I’m not sure that’s what a lot of Bulls fans want to hear, but nevertheless, it looks like Paxson will be around for the long haul.
And you know what? I don’t blame Jerry Reinsdorf for sticking with him.
Yes, Chicago has struggled this season, but Paxson has actually put together a pretty nice group of young talent that includes Zach LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, Porter, Coby White, Chandler Hutchison and even Kris Dunn, who has finally forged an identity.
Has it all come together yet? No, but there is no denying that this is a talented bunch that is capable of becoming something significant in a couple of years.
LaVine may only play one side of the floor regularly, but he has developed into a heck of a scorer. Markkanen has labored in his third season, but we saw his ability in Years 1 and 2, so there is reason to believe he can turn things around. Carter looks like ad defensive anchor with an improving offensive repertoire, Porter is a really solid wing, White is exciting, Hutchison has potential as a three-and-D guy and Dunn has almost turned himself into a mini Marcus Smart/Justise Winslow-type.
Believe it or not, there are some teams in the NBA that should envy the Bulls’ roster.
Of course, it’s not just a matter of accumulating talent; you also have to put it all together, and that is something Chicago has been unable to do thus far. How much of that blame falls on Paxson and how much of it falls on head coach Jim Boylen is up for debate, but even if it is on Boylen, that ultimately goes back to Paxson, because he put him in power as head coach to begin with.
I also understand that John Paxson has had a major role in Chicago’s front office since 2003 and hasn’t exactly produced a ton of results, so history isn’t necessarily on his side.
But based on the young talent he has been able to assembled over the last few years, he deserves a chance to at least see it through. Now, if the Bulls don’t show any improvement by next season, that’s a different story, but for now, the temperature of his seat should be comfortable enough.