|Saturday, July 19
Updated: July 21, 12:17 AM ET
Pippen agrees to two-year, $10 million deal
ESPN.com news services
The Bulls officially announced Sunday they re-signed Pippen, a member of six title teams in the 1990s. Pippen agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with his old team, according to ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.
"I'm here to help get this team back to the playoffs -- that's my goal,'' Pippen said in a statement released by the team Sunday. "I've made the playoffs every year of my 16-year career, and I don't plan on breaking that streak.''
Pippen was a seven-time All-Star in his 11 seasons with the Bulls, before leaving for the Houston Rockets before the 1999 season. He has spent the last four seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Pippen joins a team that pales in comparison to the squads that claimed six NBA titles. After Pippen, Michael Jordan and then-coach Phil Jackson left, the Bulls struggled through some miserable seasons.
Chicago showed progress last year, going 30-53.
Pippen's leadership could boost the young squad hurting from the loss of standout Jay Williams, who is recovering from career-threatening injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in June.
Bulls general manager John Paxson was out of town Sunday and had no comment on Pippen's signing, spokeswoman Sebrina Brewster said.
Paxson, a former teammate of Pippen, has previously said the 37-year-old's experience is what the team wants and needs.
"To me, he would be the perfect veteran leader,'' Paxson said weeks ago when discussing the possibility of re-signing the unrestricted free agent.
Pippen will have the chance to mentor young players, including Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford and first-round draft choice Kirk Hinrich. He also has the experience of veteran Jalen Rose and the backing of coach Bill Cartwright and assistant coach John Bach.
"I've always been a Bull in my heart,'' Pippen said, "and now I will play where my heart is.''
Pippen's career was at times brilliant, particularly when teamed with Jordan.
But there were bad times.
In a playoff game against the New York Knicks, Pippen was so incensed when coach Phil Jackson called the last play for Toni Kukoc, he refused to enter the game with 1.8 seconds remaining. Kukoc hit the game-winner before the Bulls lost the series.
Before the Bulls' last championship season of 1997-98, Pippen threatened to never play again for the team. He was recovering from foot surgery and the frustration over his salary -- $2.7 million -- mounted. Pippen lashed out, saying he didn't get the respect he deserved.
He returned that season, and the Bulls won their last title. But afterward, Pippen was shipped off in a sign-and-trade deal to Houston by former Bulls GM Jerry Krause.
Before re-signing Pippen, the Bulls had a midlevel exception of about $4.9 million that could have been spent on one player or split among several. They are also expected to have an injury exception for Williams of about $1.8 million.
The Bulls would not release contract terms.
Pippen had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee March 18, missed 17 games and then saw limited playing time for the Trail Blazers against Dallas in the playoffs.
Pippen averaged 10.8 points and a team-high 4.4 assists last season with the Trail Blazers.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.