Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicago Bulls Coaching Vacancy (VDN Links + Candidate List)

Vinny Del Negro was (finally) fired yesterday, or Monday, or in December ... but the announcement was made yesterday. I posted my thoughts on VDN at the bottom of my "Season Preview ... Review".

Here are some other VDN posts from around the interwebs, and a look at potential candidates ...

The Chicago Bulls finally fire Vinny Del Negro
Leave it to the Chicago Bulls to make a sympathetic figure out of Vinny Del Negro.

Vinny Del Negro was fired Tuesday -- or last night, or last December -- because he did a poor job of coaching the Chicago Bulls. His minute allotments were curious, his teams were wildly inconsistent and his outfits executed quite poorly on the offensive end. Also, Chicago was oftentimes less structured and efficient coming out of timeouts than it was heading into them, and any bit of player development can be more or less pegged on the expected growth you usually get from an athlete in his early 20s.

He was not a good coach. He might be a good coach someday, but in spite of a .500 record over two years filled with injuries, turmoil, roster upheaval and underachieving players, Vinny Del Negro was not a coach who deserved to keep his job.

And yet, the Bulls made it so they'll appear the bad guy in all of this. Mainly because they are.

Oft-criticized just days into his tenure, Del Negro received absolutely no public front-office support that warmed beyond the point of tepid. Chicago's curious arrangement involving general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson never seemed to be in any sort of charge, which allowed Del Negro (who had no prior coaching experience when Chicago hired him) to take the brunt of all sorts of issues regarding this strange organization.

Toss in Jerry Reinsdorf's unyielding influence, hands-on in every way that doesn't involve paying proper money to coaches, or the right amounts of money to the right players, and you have a miserable mix that probably only a group featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson could win with.

The Bulls were designed to tread water, at best, this season. And that's exactly what happened as the team peeled off another .500 year while making the playoffs, all while retaining cap space and trying to forget 2009-10 ever happened -- even if that brand of amnesia happened 45 games into 2009-10. And that's where you get into the uneasy takes on VDN's tenure. Because on paper, it seems as if he did his job.

The team willingly let its top scorer sign with another team for no compensation, it signed what turned out to be possibly the least-effective free agent on the market last year in Jannero Pargo(notes), and yet Del Negro's team still made it back to the playoffs, coming through on what I just referenced as an "at-best" situation. So why is he gone?



Del Negro never stopped being a pro

The usual pep was out of Vinny Del Negro's step on Tuesday afternoon.

It's not hard to figure out why. Getting fired will sap all the joy out of you quickly.

Still, having covered Del Negro almost every single day for seven months the revelation was a bit disconcerting.

The NBA lifer was almost always the most positive guy in the room. He always figured that he could turn lemons into lemonade. His belief was that if he kept working hard he would find a way to succeed and push past whatever obstacle stood in his path. That's what he continually preached to his team. That's what he continually preached to the media. And there's no doubt that's what he continually preached to himself even at his lowest points.

Does that make up for the fact that he was a mediocre coach who still seemed to struggle at times with certain intricacies of the game? Of course not. But it should shine a little more light on the person whom many didn't get to see on a daily basis.

No matter what you thought of Del Negro as a coach you can't question that work ethic. He wanted to succeed badly. He wanted to prove to everyone who had ever doubted that he could be successful as a head coach that they were wrong. He enjoyed the day-to-day grind that comes with being a head man in the NBA. That's why the scene, albeit one that everyone seemed to know was coming for months, was so strange to see on Tuesday. It was the first time I can recall seeing Del Negro wearing an article of clothing without a Bulls logo on it. He seemed kind of lost as he briefly spoke to the media in front of the Berto Center and then continued the process of packing and wheeling out boxes from his office.

After all the speculation that he endured over the past few months regarding his job status, the realization that he wouldn't be driving into work at the Berto Center anymore finally must have hit him.



Bulls begin coaching search; here's a list

So now the Bulls need a new coach with the official announcement Tuesday of the firing of Vinny Del Negro.

I suppose if you are looking to get to the so-called Point C, then, literally, you might need a C for Collins. But that ship has sailed and I don’t believe the former Bulls coach Doug Collins is in the mix to be the next coach.

Other Cs? Casey, Cleamons, Cartwright, Cheeks? No, I don’t think that’s what the Bulls have meant about going to Point C, which, actually, GM Gar Forman avoided referring to in his Tuesday press conference.

The question not only is who, but what. What makes a good coach?

There are several principal elements and several particulars that apply to the Bulls.

Forman Tuesday talked generically about accountability, teaching and leadership, and I didn’t take that as a direct shot at Vinny, but more general qualifications.

Still, Vinny was not so much a so-called accountability coach, as was Scott Skiles. Those guys say play defense. You don’t, you sit until you do. But since the Bulls had one of those and fired him, the next guy tends to be a bit looser, more so-called player friendly, which Vinny was. Plenty of good coaches are--Flip Saunders, for example.

There’s also experience. Though Forman said he wouldn’t exclude anyone, I’d assume the Bulls would this time want a coach who knows the NBA, which Forman did refer to, and a coach who didn’t require on-the-job training. That would be a former head coach or, at least, a veteran assistant with longtime experience and leaguewide respect.

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