There were only so many cards John Paxson could show Thursday.
The Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations made his annual end-of-the-season address to the media at the Advocate Center one day after the Bulls ended the regular season with a 22-60 record. And while transparency is a new concept that the organization has been steadily embracing, Paxson could only say so much.
Asked about the future of coach Jim Boylen and a possible contract extension this offseason, Paxson responded, “It’s very possible. It’s very possible. In fact, I’ve spoken to both Jerry and Michael [Reinsdorf] about addressing that, and I don’t know what the timing will be, but I envision Jim being our coach here and us committing to him, yes.’’
The Sun-Times has learned that it’s more than “very possible.’’
According to a source, the Bulls have already been discussing a three-year contract extension with Boylen, and now it’s just a matter of finishing up the details and deciding when to announce it.
President and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf has been impressed with Boylen.
Last month, Reinsdorf said of Boylen’s tough-love reputation in a Sun-Times interview: “He is going to do it in a way where he’ll put his arm around you, look you in the eye and let you know that when you do that you’re not only letting yourself down, but you’re letting the entire team down. It’s just trying to teach the players that his job as a coach is to try and make them play better. It’s trust that he has their best interest at heart, and he does. He cares about the players and he cares about them as people, so from that perspective I think he’s done a really good job.’’
Paxson doubled-down on that sentiment in his season-ending news conference.
“I think what I’ve seen is his ability to show these guys he genuinely cares about them,’’ Paxson said. “His goal is to get them better as individuals. I’m the first to admit that first week was like dynamite blowing up. It was a rocky week. What I’ve seen since then is a guy who embraces this challenge. He embraces the individuals he’s coaching. He really does view himself as a teacher, a guy who wants to connect with the players.
“It goes back to what I see in this building every day and what I see on the road and how he’s approaching situations. Nobody is perfect. I rub people the wrong way sometimes in this office. Jim is going to rub players the wrong way sometimes. Phil Jackson rubbed players the wrong way. The great ones do. We’re going to try to build something here with him as our coach and I’m confident in that right now.’’
Paxson also reiterated that general manager Gar Forman’s job is safe. Paxson was asked about reassigning Forman for a new GM that could do more of the heavy lifting publicly, but that idea was quickly dismissed.
“As for Gar, I’ll just keep reiterating he’s very good at what he does,’’ Paxson said. “He’s out in Portland right now at the Nike Hoops Summit scouting. He and I work in tandem. But I assume the leadership of this organization in my role, and that’s how we’re set up. Our draft record, I think, is very good. And I’m going to be the one that’s out front and center. That’s how we’ve set it up.’’