Before the season started, I picked the Bulls to be 40-42, 9th in the east and back in the lottery. At the worst the Bulls could be 41-41 and in the playoffs as the 7 seed. While you might think that this makes me happy vs. the alternative, it really doesn't.
The fact of the matter is that I didn't expect Derrick to be as good as he was as quick as he was. I knew that Derrick was going to be special, and I figured he would show flashes of brilliance, but I never expected the kind of greatness that I have watched night in and night out from a kid two years removed from playing high school hoops.
I also never guessed that Paxson would have been able to trade Nocioni for a bag of basketballs let alone for John Salmons and Brad Miller.
So the fact is that while the Bulls are in the playoffs, I'm still pretty disappointed that I watched an extremely talented team completely under perform for 3/4ths of the season thanks in part to a terrible rookie coach. This team is the 4th or 5th most talented team in the Eastern conference, and should have been at least 10 games over .500 and easily gotten the 4th or 5th seed.
The saddest part in all of this of course is that thanks in part to the success of the Bulls down the stretch, Jerry and Pax in all likelihood will keep Vinny around for another season to muck up another season of wasted growth and development of young players.
You will see names like Thibodeau, Van Gundy, Eddie Jordan, Avery Johnson, and plenty of other coaches with loads of experience thrown around in NBA coaching carrousels this off-season, while the Bulls stand PAT with their sophomore dark horse, hoping he magically figures out how to balance an NBA lineup and develop an actual rotation rather than a jumbled chaotic mess of guards and centers.
But who knows... maybe the Bulls can gut out a first round win against a superior opponent ... and maybe they'll actually have the stones to admit they whiffed on Del Negro and fire him at the end of the season. I suppose stranger things have happened... after all... the Bears did get Jay Cutler!