From the ESPN NBA Rumors page: “The Bulls have not spoken with Lawrence Frank yet, but the team is confident they’ll get to interview him for their head coach vacancy. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls have received favorable feedback on the former Nets head coach. The team is in the process of finishing background checks on people they want to interview and they may meet with Thunder assistant coach Mo Cheeks, former Timberwolves executive and head coach Kevin McHale and Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.”
We know Vince Carter has endorsed Frank for the job. We also know McHale has expressed interest in the job. And finally, we know that the New Orleans Hornets have interviewed Frank and talked to Casey and Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau.
Finally, we know that an NBA source told the Chicago Sun-Times that Bulls general manager Gar Forman is looking for a coach with head coaching experience in both the regular season and playoffs.
But that’s about all we know.
I can’t say any of this buzz has me particularly excited. Frank’s record over his final 2.2 seasons (prior to his dismissal after this season’s 0-16 start) was 68-112. In 2007-08, his Nets went 34-48 with a combo of Jason Kidd/Devin Harris (trade), Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. The next season, they went 34-48 again with Harris, Carter and various other spare parts (Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts, etc.). Sure, they didn’t have a ton of talent…but they weren’t exactly overachieving, were they?
And don’t even get me started about McHale.
If the Bulls were going to fire Vinny Del Negro, I was really hoping they were going to bring in somebody who was clearly and demonstrably better. I don’t know much about Casey, but the Mavericks haven’t fared very well in the playoffs over the past four seasons, three of which ended in first round exits.
I still like Jeff Van Gundy for the position, but his brother, Stan Van Gundy, doesn’t think that’s likely.
Well, all Bulls fans can do is continue to wait and wonder.
During a recent appearance on “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000, Jeff Van Gundy had some things to say about Chicago’s suddenly vacant coaching position. Actually, I take that back. He had some things not to say…
Regarding his interest in the Bulls coaching job:
“I never really comment on that stuff. I always let the teams do that. It makes it simpler. I don’t really get engaged in that. I just know this, they’ve got good people running their organization who I think didn’t handle the Vinny Del Negro situation well. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not very good at what they do.”
Regarding his pro-Del Negro stance:
“I don’t know anything about it. I don’t worry about that stuff. The Bulls are a great organization. I have great respect for [vice president of basketball operations] John Paxson through the entirety of his career … And [Bulls GM] Gar Forman, I’ve known him since my brother played against him in high school way back when. So I have a lot of respect for him, too.
“I know they didn’t particularly care about what I said about Vinny, and that’s fine. Everybody has their opinion, and that’s mine.”
Saying nothing sometimes says everything. If Van Gundy wasn’t interested in the job, he could easily say so and that would be that. By choosing not to comment on his feelings but expressing admiration for the organization and its management, Jeff seems to be declaring his candidacy for the job.
And, frankly, the Bulls could do a lot worse than Van Gundy. (Seriously, are they really interested in Kevin McHale?) After all, during his days as the head man in New York and Houston, Van Gundy compiled a 430-318 record, which gives him a better winning percentage (.575) than Rudy Tomjanovich (.559), Don Nelson (.557), Larry Brown (.552), Mike Fratello (.549), Mike D’Antoni (.544), Doc Rivers (.543), Lenny Wilkins (.536), Doug Collins (.536), Scott Skiles (.519), and so on.
Van Gundy also coached the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1998-99.
The only time Van Gundy coached a sub-.500 team was when his Rockets went 34-48 in 2005-06. Of couse, his two best players — Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady — missed a combined 60 games. That might have had something to do with it.
JVG’s teams are disciplined and play great defense. In fact — discounting the 2001-02 season, when he resigned as coach of the Knicks after only 19 games — Van Gundy’s squads have finished in the top five in Defensive Rating eight out of 10 times. And the other two times his teams finished 6th.
However, Van Gundy has never been (by the numbers) a particularly adept offensive coach. In those 10 full seasons, his teams finished somewhere between 21st and 29th in Offensive Rating eight times. The other two times his teams finished 15th.
That, more than anything else, concerns me. After all, the 2009-10 Chicago Bulls finished 11th in Defensive Rating but only 27th in Offensive Rating. I guess that makes them the perfect Van Gundy team, but I think the Bulls would greatly benefit from some improved offensive efficiency.
Can JVG help in that area? History says no. But since Van Gundy won’t comment on the subject of the Bulls’ coaching job, this is all hypothetical anyway.