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Columnist
Here's the real story behind Paxson's role
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/27/2009 6:26 PM

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Funny how John Paxson's future role with the Bulls continues to be such a puzzling issue.

A story turned up on ESPN.com over the weekend that Paxson is, in fact, going to stick with the team, as if that was a surprise. Paxson has already confirmed this a number of times since an erroneous report spiraled out of control in February that he would resign after the trade deadline.

Both Chicago papers responded to the recent Internet story by claiming to be the first to break the news that Paxson was going to stay, but he would take on a new role this summer.

These stories all pointed out that Paxson is anxious to get a break from the "day-to-day responsibilities" of being the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, and would be replaced in that role by player personnel director Gar Forman.

Here's the real story: The changes in the Bulls front office have already occurred and been well-documented.

Paxson shared news last summer that Forman took the lead role in contract negotiations with Luol Deng and Ben Gordon. That was simply because Forman's calm demeanor was well-suited for the task. Paxson admitted he can get too emotional during the process.

Paxson has cut down on his scouting over the years, and he included Forman on the coaching interviews the Bulls conducted last summer. All teams have more than one person involved in potential trades.

What other day-to-day responsibilities are there in running an NBA team? The job entails acquiring players, through the draft and trades; negotiating contracts, and hiring a coaching staff. This isn't a grocery store with inventory and payroll to monitor.

The bottom line is Paxson is not planning to take on a new role. He has simply received some help. When the season ends, Forman may be given a new title to reflect his increasing duties, but Paxson will continue to do the same thing he is now, which puts him in much the same situation as Detroit's Joe Dumars or Miami's Pat Riley when it comes to running a team.

Forman used to work with Tim Floyd at the college level, and he basically joined the Bulls as a scout on Floyd's recommendation. But he has continued to rise in the organization nearly eight years after Floyd's departure. That's the more interesting story.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com