New York Post writer Peter Vecsey on Friday speculated that Paxson may leave the Bulls shortly after the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 19. His story began with: "Do I know this to be fact? No," citing "two people in the know."
Later, the Chicago Sun-Times, in an unbylined report on its Web site, said it confirmed the story, crediting Vecsey with breaking it.
Shortly after that, the Bulls released a statement from owner Jerry Reinsdorf that said: "Pete Vecsey is not a credible enough source to comment on. Two weeks ago he had John being fired. Now he has him resigning."
Later Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Paxson "is strongly considering resigning as Bulls general manager, likely at the end of the season." The Tribune said that Paxson has talked about his wishes with Reinsdorf, who has tried to persuade him to stay.
According to ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher, two team sources said that Paxson remains the GM and will be beyond Thursday's trade deadline. Whether Paxson leaves at the end of the season remains to be seen.
The Bulls, 10th in the Eastern Conference at 23-30, have been a picture of disappointment this season. Reinsdorf, in a television interview late last month, made it clear he was not happy with the situation.
"You want the grade up 'til today?" Reinsdorf said during the interview with Comcast SportsNet's "Monster in the Morning" show. "What's the lowest grade you can give? This has been a disaster. It's embarrassing. But it will get better."
In that interview, Reinsdorf had expressed his belief that Paxson would be able to right the ship, but he stopped short of granting first-year coach Vinny Del Negro the same vote of optimism, saying the GM "is not going to let this situation continue."
"When you have a team that's not performing, it's an organization failure," Reinsdorf said. "You win and you lose as an organization. But if there's one person that is not responsible for what's going on right now, it's John Paxson.
"I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson," he added. "He's really one of the best people that I know. He's a great general manager and a great judge of talent. I just worry that he not be too hard on himself. He takes all of this very, very seriously."