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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Bulls' GM Paxson says he's staying

Associated Press

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- After a week of rumors that he'd be out after the trade deadline, John Paxson made it short and sweet: He's not going anywhere.

"I'm the GM of the Bulls. I'm not resigning," he said Thursday. "I'm here and I'm going to be here, and that puts an end to it."

John Paxson

Paxson

"It's over with. I'm the GM of the Bulls and that's final."

Before the All-Star break, rumors flew that Paxson would resign -- either immediately or at the end of the season -- running the team he won three titles with as a player in the Michael Jordan era.

Fans have been especially critical the past few seasons of Paxson's perceived reluctance to trade for a star player and his inability to acquire a low-post threat. Some even booed him during a halftime ceremony honoring longtime broadcaster and former coach Johnny "Red" Kerr last week.

After making three deals in the past 36 hours, Paxson spoke to the media and reiterated that he's still the boss.

"I have no control over stories and rumors that are printed at all," he said. "I don't feel an obligation to respond every time something comes up about me or a trade or anything like that, so I left it alone."

The Bulls sent forward Andres Nocioni, center Drew Gooden and reserves Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin to Sacramento on Wednesday for center Brad Miller and swingman John Salmons.

And Chicago sent Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks on Thursday in exchange for Tim Thomas and reserves Jerome James and Anthony Roberson.

The Bulls also got a first-round pick in this June's draft from the Oklahoma City Thunder for shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha.

"I thought we had two very productive days," Paxson said. "We got quite a few things accomplished on our end that I think help us a lot as a basketball team right now, and moving forward will give us an opportunity to be better as well."

The Bulls are 1 games behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot. Paxson said he thinks the team is better than it was two days ago.

"We didn't give away a starter and we added components to make the team better right now," he said.

The Bulls went from 49 wins to 49 losses last season, and they have struggled this year despite the arrival of No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose, a favorite for Rookie of the Year.

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf even called the season "a disaster" and "embarrassing" during an interview with Comcast SportsNet three weeks ago and said he's been tempted to stand up and boo, but he also made it clear he didn't blame Paxson.

"If there's one person that is not responsible for what's going on right now, it's John Paxson," Reinsdorf said in that interview. "I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson."

Paxson played on the Bulls' first three championship teams in the 1990s and delivered a memorable shot during the 1993 finals against Phoenix, burying the series-winning 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left.

He later served as an assistant coach and broadcaster before replacing Jerry Krause as the general manager in April 2003.

Paxson drafted Kirk Hinrich with the seventh pick that year, took Ben Gordon with the third pick in 2004 and acquired the rights to Luol Deng from Phoenix. They formed the core that led the Bulls to the playoffs in 2005, '06 and '07 before things fell apart.