Paxson: Bulls 'realistic' about current state, won't be players for Russell Westbrook

Paxson: Bulls 'realistic' about current state, won't be players for Russell Westbrook

To the small pocket of the Bulls' fan base who wanted Russell Westbrook, we've got unfortunate news.

Bulls VP John Paxson joined 670 The Score on Thursday to discuss a number of topics, including the potential of trading for disgruntled All-Pro Russell Westbrook.

And while Paxson didn't come right out and say the Bulls weren't interested, his response told much of the story.

"Everybody pays attention obviously to what's going on, what the deals around the league are," Paxson said. "But I think every team is at kind of a different stage of development and evolution. There are teams that are going to take a real shot at someone like that. You have to factor in everything. When you look at the financial aspect of a player that's 30 going out four years and the amount of money that's going to be made, those things can tie your hands up and put your organization in a tough position."

Westbrook, an eight-time All-Star and 2017 MVP, still has four years and $170 million left on the $205 max extension he signed in 2017. His current contract will pay him $47 million in 2022, when he'll be a 34-year-old entering his 15th NBA season.

He's undoubtedly talented, having averaged a triple-double each of the last three seasons and leading the league in scoring in 2017. But Westbrook's inefficiencies, decline in production and shooting, and age make his contract a difficult one to move. The Bulls would be better with Westbrook, but it's tough to see them as contenders in a top-heavy East that still includes rising teams like the Bucks, Sixers and Nets. The Westbrook-to-Bulls speculation never made much sense.

For those reasons, Paxson said the Bulls are more likely to see their young prospects through instead of bringing in a player like Westbrook who doesn't fit their timeline.

"We're trying to build this thing given our timeline, and our timeline started two years ago in terms of a rebuild," Paxson said. "When you look at the number of changes we made in the past year with the 15-man roster, I think they're significant. I think we've upgraded our talent level while staying young. I think our prospects of being that competitive team are high."

Paxson said the hope is once those young players like Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White progress, and the Bulls have ample cap space to attract big-name free agents, that Chicago will be a destination.

"You want the superstars. You want to do what the Clippers are doing and the Lakers are doing, but we're realistic right now," he said. "We're not in that position. We hope that in a couple years with the development of these young guys, players around the league view us as a destination point where they can win at the highest level. I believe we'll be there if our young guys perform the way we hope they will."

Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown


Wendell Carter Jr., NBA Cares host court restoration event that honors slain teenager Darius Brown

On Saturday NBA Cares, jr. NBA, EA Sports, Wendell Carter Jr., Complex and artist Hebru Brantley teamed up to renovate the  MetCalfePark basketball court in honor of slain teenager Darius Brown, who was fatally shot and killed on August 3, 2011. 

The court was re-designed with Brantley's FlyBoy character as the centerpiece.

The FlyBoy character represents “hope and optimism that makes people believe that no matter where they are from, no matter what their circumstances, anything is possible."

The event hosted by NBA Cares—and also a part of Complex Community Week—featured Wendell Carter Jr. conversing with the kids and helping "Slam Dunking Science Teacher "Jonathan Clark with an awesome dunking display for the kids. 

Metcalfe Park's (43rd State) new look is amazing and the FlyBoy image serves as the perfect image for the court.

As Hebru Brantley states, "FlyBoy is about taking flight and believing in yourself enough to reach your true potential."

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Nick Nurse confident in Jim Boylen, Bulls: 'He'll be a good leader for them'

Nick Nurse confident in Jim Boylen, Bulls: 'He'll be a good leader for them'

Toronto Raptors head coach and lifelong Cubs fan Nick Nurse was in Chicago on Friday to throw out the 1st pitch and sing the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

It was a major moment for Nurse—who grew up in Carroll, Iowa and played college basketball at the University of Northern Iowa—to be able to talk with Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Maddon actually started his pro baseball career as a catcher for the Quad Cities Angles, based out of Davenport, Iowa, in 1976.

Nurse stated that Maddon is a huge inspiration to him and was clearly overjoyed to speak with someone he considers an excellent leader. Nurse's Chicago trip would not have been complete without a little NBA talk and he had no problem discussing his faith in colleague and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen.

"Well, first of all, Jimmy Boylen, the head coach, is a good friend of mine and he is a hell of a coach."

Nurse went on to joke about not wanting the Bulls to do "too well" of course, as the two teams will see each other four times next season and will both be battling for a potential postseason berth in a new-look, wide-open Eastern Conference. The Raptors, of course, will be looking to make another deep playoff run despite the loss of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The Bulls will be looking to at least have a competitive season after finishing with a whopping 60 losses in 2018-19, their first 60-loss season since 2002. 

But when discussing the future outlook of the Bulls, Nurse was confident in the direction of the franchise and Boylen's presence as a strong headman for the team is a major reason why. 

"Everything rises and falls with leadership and...he'll be a good leader for them."