The Chicago Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with the first overall pick in 2008, a decision drastically changed the fortunes of the organization for the better.

“When we were lucky and got Derrick, and we know that we were lucky to get him, the goal became to try and clear up cap space, which we did,” Bulls’ VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson told The Score’s David Schuster in an exclusive interview.

Paxson and general manager Gar Forman not only put the team in position to add key free agents last offseason, they were able to make the playoffs in Rose’s first two seasons.

LISTEN: David Schuster’s Interview With John Paxson, Part 1

“But the goal was to try and build the team with [Rose],” Paxson said. “And last year we got under the cap, and were able to accomplish some good things, getting some better players in here, hiring Tom [Thibodeau], all of those things have put us in this position.”

In the first year after adding free agents Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Kurt Thomas, and hiring a new coach in Thibodeau, the Bulls are way beyond where even the most optimistic fans could have anticipated them being.

Through 66 games this season, the Bulls have a half-game lead as the top team in the Eastern Conference. While that’s an impressive feat on it’s own, the fact that they’ve done it amidst nearly constant injuries is why Rose and Thibodeau are being mentioned among the best in the league.

LISTEN: David Schuster’s Interview With John Paxson, Part 2

“And the best thing,” Paxson said, “from Gar and my seat, is that we sit here and we say to ourselves, ‘our future is so bright because our players are so young.’ Some are in the prime of their career, some like Derrick have not even reached the prime of their career. That affords us the opportunity to be patient, which we’ve been.”

Some fans and members of the media clamored for the organization to add an elite scorer at the the NBA’s trade deadline, but Paxson was careful not to compromise the future.

“Short term fixes aren’t what we’re looking for, we’re looking for something that can last for a long period of time,” Paxson said. “In that regard, we just feel good we’re in this position and that we can keep moving forward.”

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