Bulls

John Paxson dishes on Justin Holiday trade, Jabari Parker's status and more

John Paxson dishes on Justin Holiday trade, Jabari Parker's status and more

VP of basketball operations John Paxson spoke with reporters on Friday night and dished on a number of topics.

Paxson happy with Holiday return but can’t commit to additional moves

Paxson said the Thursday trade with the Memphis Grizzlies came together in “a couple hours.” Memphis was looking for perimeter shooting and, having lost 10 of their last 13 to fall below .500, needed to make a move.

The Bulls were willing trade partners, looking to acquire assets. They found them in a pair of second round draft picks, which gets them back into the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft; they had traded that initial pick to the Lakers in 2016 as part of the process in signing Dwyane Wade.

So while Paxson believes there are more potential moves on the table – and both Robin Lopez and Jabari Parker are reportedly being shopped – he wouldn’t commit to another move before the Feb. 8 deadline.

“That’s what has to happen. Things have to align. You can’t just force it,” he said. “Again, if we can acquire young players, draft assets, we can maybe look at our roster and think there’s a better fit, we’ll go that route.”

Of note, both Paxson and Jim Boylen seem excited about Wayne Selden getting some run with the Bulls in this the final year of his contract. Selden fell out of the Grizzlies rotation in December but just turned 24 and showed some promise toward the end of last season.

MarShon Brooks has not reported to the Bulls, Boylen confirmed, and Paxson said the team will look for a resolution for moving him out of Chicago in the next couple days.

Paxson supports Boylen’s decision to take Jabari Parker out of rotation

Jabari Parker must have done something right during Thursday's practice. The Bulls' biggest offseason signing received his first playing time since Dec. 13 against the Orlando Magic in Mexico City. He finally found some minutes with Bobby Portis still out with a sprained ankle - though he could return as soon as Sunday - and Lauri Markkanen battling first-quarter foul trouble.

He still projects as the odd man out once Portis returns, as there's no real point in trying him again at small forward.

But Paxson, the guy who ultimately decided to pay him $20 million a year, said he trusts Boylen’s decision to take their highest paid player and turn him into a nightly DNP-CD, even with the minutes he got on Friday.

“The one thing Jim has been really consistent with is the accountability aspect,” Paxson said. “I believe you can hold players to a certain standard of what you want as a coach. Jabari is a really good guy. You guys have been around him. He’s a terrific person. If we can acclimate him back into things, he’s going to get a chance. This league is about getting chances, even for players who have been through what Jabari has been through.”

Paxson, like Boylen’s done often, said if an opportunity presents itself that Parker will get a chance. It happened on Friday and Parker looked good, but it's more likely is that if an opportunity presents itself for the Bulls to unload their latest failed free agent signing, they’ll do it as quickly as possible.

At the end of the day, Cam Payne was simply outplayed

Paxson couldn’t have been more excited about the Bulls acquiring Cam Payne two years ago, and he went out of his way in April to say how confident they were for his continued progression. Perhaps they were simply trying to convince themselves that Payne could transform into a second-unit point guard, but it never panned out. Payne was the odd man out following the Holiday trade, as the Bulls waived the final piece of their regrettable deal with Oklahoma City.

“You make decisions and hope for the best,” he said. “The reality is both (Ryan Arcidiacono) and (Shaq Harrison) have outplayed him. They fit what we want to do. Cam had some struggles with his foot and trying to get him back. We wish him well.”

As expected, Paxson still confident in the future

It’s not as if Paxson would have said anything different, but he reiterated Friday that he’s confident in the direction the Bulls are headed.

Friday marked the first time this season that Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison took the floor together, and they did so in a starting capacity.

This is the future. Until this summer brings another top draft pick and potentially a significant free agent, the core of the Bulls lies with these five players. And all Paxson is looking for is continued improvement from his young core.

“Very important. It’s really important. We need to see growth. We need to see how they play. We’re a month into Jim’s tenure now, and I think they understand what’s expected,” Paxson said. “So we’re going to go out on the road here after these next two games. That’s a good time for a young team to get together. They’re going to be hard games. We just need to see development. That’s going to be a big key.”

Posterized presents 'Chicagoland's All-Time Starting Five' plus Q&A with Jason Goff

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Posterized presents 'Chicagoland's All-Time Starting Five' plus Q&A with Jason Goff

Over the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago, the "Posterized: The Chicago Experience by Jim Beam" event celebrated the rich history of Chicagoland high school hoops by honoring an all-time starting five, featuring five Chicagoland preps legends, voted on by Chicago sports fans

 Fans had from Feb. 6 to Feb. 10 at 9 pm.. to vote for their top five from a list of names that included Candace Parker, Derrick Rose, and the late Benji Wilson. The final results were revealed on Feb. 14, at the Chicago Sports Museum & Harry Caray's 7th inning stretch restaurant.

The Chicagoland all-time starting five was Derrick Rose (Simeon), Isiah Thomas (St. Joseph), Dwyane Wade (Richards), Anthony Davis (Perspectives Charter), and Antoine Walker (Mount Carmel). I was able to speak with the host of the event about the experience and the final list, NBC Sports Chicago's Jason Goff.

 

Q: How was your experience at 'Posterized: The Chicago Experience' and what ultimately led to your interest in hosting the event? 

It was a terrific experience. Joy Glover and her team put together a really cool experience for locals and people who aren't from Chicago. All things party, Chicago basketball appreciation; and All-Star weekend rolled into one event. When Joy reached out through a mutual friend, I didn't hesitate. The idea was cool and the execution during the busiest time I've seen in quite a while was excellent. 

Q: Ultimately, do you think the fans got the starting five right? Was there anyone you were shocked didn't make the final cut? 

There are so many names that were on the list that deserve recognition. We're all prisoners of whatever generation of basketball we grew up in. Quinn Buckner, Mark Aguirre, George Mikan, etc. Just to name a few. Also, the women's game could've received a little more gratitude by our voters as well. Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter; and many others have had just as much success inside and outside of this city as anyone. 

Q: Who in your opinion had the best high school career out of the Chicagoland all-time starting five?

Of the ones named? Probably Derrick Rose. But nobody has done more winning than Quinn Buckner (a member of undefeated Thornridge High School team in 1972).

Q: When it's all said and done, who do you think will have the best NBA career of the Chicagoland all-time starting five?

Unless Anthony Davis wins a few titles, it'd have to be Dwyane Wade with Isiah Thomas as a close second.

Between the five players that make up Posterized's all-time starting five, there are six NBA Championships, an NBA MVP, and 17 All-NBA appearances. Below are some of the accomplishments of this illustrious group:

Isiah Thomas:

High school (St. Joseph-Westchester): State finalist (1979), McDonald's All-American (1979), first-team Parade All-American, USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1980)

Indiana (NCAA): NCAA champion (1981), NCAA Tourney MVP (1981), two-time All-Big Ten, Consensus First-Team All-American (1981)

NBA (Detroit Pistons): Five-time All-NBA, Two-time NBA Champion (1988-89, 1989-90), 1989-90 Finals MVP, Hall of Famer

Derrick Rose:

Simeon (High school): State finalist (1979), McDonald's All-American (1979), First-Team Parade All-American, USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1980)

Memphis (NCAA): NCAA runner-up (2008)

NBA (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons): 2008-09 Rookie of the Year, one-time All-NBA, 2010-11 MVP

Dwyane Wade:

Richards (High school): Led Richards to the Class AA sectional finals in his senior year

Marquette (NCAA): First-team All-American (2003), Conference USA Player of the Year (2003), No. 3 jersey retired by Marquette

NBA (Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers): Eight-time All-NBA, Three-time NBA champion (2005-06, 2011-12, 2012-13), Finals MVP (2005-06)

Antoine Walker:

Mount Carmel (High school): Chicago Tribune 1994 Boys All-State Basketball Team, First-team Parade All-American (1994)

Kentucky (NCAA): SEC Tournament MVP (1995), First-team All-SEC (1996), NCAA Champion (1996)

NBA (Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves): 15,647 career points, 1996-97 All-Rookie, three-time All-Star, 2005-06 NBA Champion

Anthony Davis:

Perspectives (High school): First-team Parade All-American (2011), Jordan Brand Classic co-MVP (2011)

Kentucky (NCAA): 2011-12 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2012 SEC Player of the Year, Naismith Award, Wooden Award, NCAA Champion (2011-12)

NBA (New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers): 2012-13 All-Rookie, three-time blocks leader, three-time All-Defensive team, three-time All-NBA

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Roommates, brothers, opponents: Coby White, Cam Johnson reunite and show out

Roommates, brothers, opponents: Coby White, Cam Johnson reunite and show out

Cameron Johnson had just been selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. At the time, the move was a surprise — Johnson was projected to fall into the middle to late first round, despite averaging 16.9 points and shooting 45.7 percent from 3 in his last year at North Carolina.

So, elation was a natural response for all close to Johnson. And nobody displayed that elation more authentically — nor more publicly — than Johnson’s teammate, roommate and ‘little brother,’ Coby White (who had been picked by the Bulls just four slots earlier). You remember the clip:

That familial bond was grown over many nights bunking together on the road during White’s one and only year at UNC. It all began on a week-long trip to the Bahamas before last season.

“Coming in, I'm the type of dude where if I don't really know you, then I don't talk a lot,” White said. “And then Cam was like ‘Why you so anti(-social)?’ and then it kinda started from there. He became a guy I could always go to if I ever needed something, on or off the court.”

“You know, seniors pair with freshmen, make sure they're everybody they need to be on time,” Johnson, a fifth-year in 2018-19, said. “But he was, like, a mature, easy, no-drama freshman. His composure was at a very high level. His maturity was at a very high level.”

White scoffed at that, saying he got a similar rep (of being ‘mature’) in his first weeks with the Bulls. “I was like nah just trust me,” he said. “And now I'm like that little brother that's annoying them.”

Still, Johnson and White became fast friends during their overlapping year in Chapel Hill. Though it’s been tough to keep in touch amid the rigors of their first NBA seasons, they each agreed that competing against each other was a fun change of pace.

“It was great seeing him. I hadn't seen him in a long time, so it was great seeing him,” White said. “We talk here and there, but because we're so busy — it's one of those things, like, you know no matter what we're gonna have each other's backs. We always gonna be there for each other when we need each other.”

“I love that kid, man. I tell you, most of the time when we talk, it’s just saying what’s up and just reminding each other that we love each other,” Johnson said. “That’s my guy and I went over and gave him a big hug before I went on the court today.”

 

What ensued come gametime was special for all. In the contest — a 112-104 Suns victory — White poured in a career-high 33 points and canned seven 3-pointers, shooting 11-for-22 from the field. Johnson notched 11 points and three 3-pointers, and made all of them count.

RELATED: Coby White posts career night but Bulls come up short vs. Suns

“It was fun but I hate him so much,” White said of Johnson, who hit two of his three 3-pointers in the game’s fourth quarter. “I just know whenever he shoots, if he gets any type of open look, it's going in. So every time he shot it, in my head, I'm like mad cause I'm like, he's the one you just can't leave him open. The ball just kept finding him in open space.”

But then, with a smile: “But obviously, it's all love. After the game, I talked to him. He told me he was proud of me and whatnot. He's like a big brother to me, so it means a lot.”

There’s just something about these Tar Heels. With Roy Williams at the United Center on Nov. 12, White set a Bulls record for 3-pointers in a quarter with seven in the fourth against the Knicks. Tonight, lined up across from Johnson, he scored the second-most points in Bulls franchise history by a rookie off the bench.

He, Johnson and Bulls fans everywhere will be counting down the days until the team visits Phoenix on April 5.

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