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NBA Podcast: K.C. Johnson on Jerry Krause’s legacy, Jimmy Butler’s future

On the latest episode of “Posting Up,” the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson stops by to talk about the past, present and future of the Chicago Bulls. (Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Bulls have only had two men running their basketball operations for the past 30 years: John Paxson, the man who has been in charge since 2003, and Jerry Krause, who started in 1985 and stayed in the job until Paxson succeeded him.

That’s where K.C. Johnson comes in. No one has been covering the Bulls on a regular basis for as long as Johnson, who has been on the beat for the Tribune since the late 1990s, as Chicago’s second three-peat was wrapping up. And that’s what makes Johnson a perfect guest for this episode of Posting Up — one that covers the past, present and future of the Bulls.

Most of the episode is dedicated to the past, and specifically to the passing of Krause this past week after a lengthy illness. A Chicago native, Krause had a remarkable career in sports, switching back and forth between personnel jobs in baseball and basketball for a half-century, working for several teams in both sports.

But it is his time with the Bulls, presiding over the six championships of the Jordan dynasty, that are what Krause is known for. And while he was a divisive figure for a variety of reasons, which we get into on the podcast, he also was undeniably a brilliant talent evaluator, as he proved time and again by remaking the original roster he inherited and turning it into a championship-caliber one — and then, once Jordan left and returned, rebooting the team into a championship contender a second time.

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In addition to discussing Krause and his legacy, the discussion also included some thoughts on the current and future state of the Bulls. It’s been a tumultuous two seasons in Chicago under Coach Fred Hoiberg, but Johnson explains why his reporting has indicated Paxson, Hoiberg and general manager Gar Forman are all safe in their jobs going into the offseason and next season.

The futures of the team’s two star players, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, are murkier. Wade has a player option for next season, which Johnson breaks down the pros and cons of picking up from Wade’s perspective. As for Butler, who has been rumored to be on the trading block for over a year, Johnson goes through a similar breakdown as far as his future goes, and makes a prediction as to whether the All-Star swingman will be in Chicago by the start of next season.

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