I'm going to go ahead and climb out on the limb today and say the “John Paxson is about to resign as Bulls general manager” bombshell was a colossal false alarm.
If you happened to miss it, Peter Vecsey wrote today in the New York Post, “Do I know this to be fact? No. But two people in the know maintain John Paxson will resign as Bulls GM soon after Thursday's trade deadline expires. ... One of the above sources said he wouldn't be surprised if Doug Collins were approached again after the season regarding the coaching job (currently held by Vinny Del Negro) and as GM, or both.”
Reading that second sentence, I'm having flashbacks to the last time everyone jumped the gun on a Bulls story. Remember last May, when people were reporting that Doug Collins was all set to be head coach? It was a done deal everywhere but inside the Berto Center, where they were scheduling second interviews with Chuck Person, Dwane Casey and Vinny Del Negro.
Did Collins have anything to do with today's news item? I have no idea, but have been assured that the premise is not true.
Here's what might have happened: The Bulls have been planning to make some changes their front office, maybe add a person or two. Minor tweaks, not a huge deal. When word spread that the Bulls were going to hire new management, perhaps the story grew into Paxson is preparing to step down.
Paxson is in Phoenix for all-star weekend. I suppose Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf returned to his Arizona home after Tuesday's Johnny “Red” Kerr tribute. They haven't been listening to sports radio in Chicago and probably see no need to make any kind of definitive statement.
On Wednesday, Paxson and Reinsdorf spent the day together at the Berto Center, visiting with players and mulling over trade possibilities. Again, I've seen no evidence of Paxson being ready to resign. The job has been tough on him, but he's a competitor and has a potential superstar in Derrick Rose, a nice start toward building a winner.
I've seen other stories saying that Paxson is planning to resign, but the timing is uncertain. Here's another scoop: The Daily Herald has learned that we're all going to die some day, but the timing is uncertain.
Everyone in this business has been wrong before, including myself and Vecsey. I do know we were the first newspaper to report that Collins was talking to the Bulls about the coaching job last year, but never said it was a done deal.
If I find out anything different than what is written here, this post will be updated.
UPDATE -- Just to clarify a few things, I'm told Paxson does not have health problems that are causing him to consider stepping down, as one report suggested.
The Vecsey story suggested Gar Forman, the Bulls director of player personnel, would take over for Paxson. Forman's duties have been increasing during the past few months. As was widely reported, he took the lead in contract negotiations with the agents for Luol Deng and Ben Gordon over the summer. He's probably involved in trade talks as well. That doesn't mean he's taking over for Paxson, though.
As mentioned above, I've heard the Bulls have thought about bringing in more help for Paxson. Again, that doesn't mean he's quitting as general manager.
Also, I should point out that Paxson and Doug Collins are good friends. I don't want to imply that Collins is trying to sabotage Pax's position with the Bulls.