There’s nothing like the bond that teammates form.
That dynamic is palpable during John Paxson’s appearance on Stacey King’s “Gimme The Hot Sauce” podcast, co-hosted by longtime local broadcaster Mark Schanowski.
Beyond King and Paxson taking a trip down memory lane, compete with funny tales about dynasty days and King’s comedic standing amongst teammates, Paxson offered his first public comments on the Chicago Bulls’ new management team of executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas and general manager Marc Eversley.
“I’m really proud of Arturas and Marc,” Paxson said on the podcast, which can be heard in full at the link below. “What they’ve done in a short period of time, they came in with the mindset of being aggressive. And they have been.”
It’s been well documented that Paxson is the one who went to ownership in December 2019 to tell Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf that he felt it would be best for the franchise to bring new vision to basketball operations.
Paxson, who replaced Jerry Krause as head of basketball operations in 2003, became a senior adviser to Karnišovas, Eversley and their staff. Multiple team sources said the relationship is a strong one. And Paxson is completely content merely to be a sounding board if needed behind the scenes.
“I’m really grateful that there’s a new way of looking at things and working, the fact that they’ve been so aggressive and taken some chances,” Paxson said on the podcast. “You look at the talent on our team. And unfortunately, I know we were in on the Paul Millsap thing. He decided to go to Brooklyn, which you can’t blame him. But they’ve just left no stone unturned.
“I’m happy for our fans and the people in our organization. We tried the last few years to rebuild it through the draft. And it didn’t work. So the fact that AK and Marc have been so aggressive, it has to have our fan base excited.”
After Paxson replaced Krause, he completely flipped the roster save for Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry within two seasons. Now, Karnišovas, Eversley and their staff have done the same. Only Zach LaVine and Coby White remain from the roster this regime inherited from Paxson and former general manager Gar Forman.
Paxson, who helmed basketball operations when the Bulls hired Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro, Tom Thibodeau, Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boylen during his tenure, also had strong praise for Billy Donovan.
“He’s really good. He’s a very good game coach. He’s a good teacher of the game. He knows how to hold guys to a standard and accountability level without being the guy you feel like is riding you all the time,” Paxson said on the podcast. “He sets the standards and what’s expected. With the talent we have this year and Billy coaching, if we can stay healthy, which is always in this day and age a big if, I’m really excited to see what we can be.”
Paxson attended some home games last season but no longer is involved in the day-to-day grind of running basketball operations. The Bulls made 11 playoff appearances with one trip to the 2011 Eastern Conference finals during his and former general manager Forman’s tenure.
“This whole business is about trust. I believe AK and Marc and all the people in the front office they trust that I have the Bulls’ best interests at heart in everything. That’s all that has ever mattered to me,” Paxson said on the podcast. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them. I think AK is really smart. He gets a little ticked off at things at times, which I like. He’s competitive and he wants to win at the highest level.”