By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) It was about as fast as the Bulls have moved all year, racing to hold management’s post-season press conference immediately at the conclusion of the final game, on the same night as the Blackhawks opened the playoffs, the city’s two first-place baseball teams were in action and national NBA media were busy with either Kobe Bryant’s last game or the Warriors chasing history.
There — finally — was executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, answering every question posed by the much smaller contingent of reporters than would have been present otherwise. Coach Fred Hoiberg acknowledged their obvious and unusual deadline pressure when he appeared, ceding the floor to his bosses.
Hoiberg’s still the coach, and his bosses are still his bosses. General manager Gar Forman isn’t losing his job, Paxson said, despite speculation to the contrary. Though he kept mentioning accountability, it appears that will apply only to the roster.
Paxson blamed injuries for some of their problems but noted that no player was currently untouchable as they look at options to accelerate reconstruction. The closest he came to calling out an individual was a commentary on team leadership.
“When you’re talking too much about leadership, you’re probably not getting what you need from the team leaders,” Paxson said. “I don’t think any of our guys need to talk about that anymore, about leadership. I think they need to show it.”
Looking at you, Jimmy Butler, the self-appointed team leader who called out the head coach and publicly vetoed the offense he wanted to run. Regarding Derrick Rose, the eroded former star who couldn’t coexist comfortably with Butler, Paxson only said, “He’s been through a lot” and that the Bulls “have a lot of decisions to make.”
Mentioning all of Rose’s injuries and admitting “he’s had to look out for himself” isn’t exactly a good way to market him as a trade possibility, so that focus is now primarily on Butler, the more valuable of the two.
It won’t be anybody in a suit, but somebody’s going somewhere.