Fresh ink: February 2, 2009

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K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “The silly speculation about Del Negro getting fired this season, possibly by the beginning of the All-Star break Feb. 13, overlooks three crucial factors: •He’s in the first season of a three-year deal, and Reinsdorf already is paying Scott Skiles not to work for him. •Reinsdorf played a role in Del Negro’s hiring after general manager John Paxson first signed off on Mike D’Antoni and Doug Collins. •Little about Del Negro’s learning curve in his first season coaching at any level surprises anybody in Bulls management.”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “The coaches didn’t click right away and that might be understandable. Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff had volumes of experience on their resumes, but Harris was used to working with a championship contender in Dallas. His intricate offense was no match for a rookie point guard and big men who were already struggling to pass NBA 101. Bickerstaff hadn’t been an assistant in more than 20 years and no one could be certain what Del Negro needed to know in order to do his job well. After a promising start to the season, the Bulls hit a deep slump. They seemed to have no concept of team defense, something that should have been established during training camp. Give the coaches credit for realizing that their methods weren’t working.”

Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Get the hint, Vinny Del Negro. Reinsdorf’s finger was pointing straight at the Bulls’ head coach. If your boss said your co-worker was great but didn’t want to say anything about you, well, you would know what that means. But Saturday, Reinsdorf tried to squirm out of it, following up his vague finger-pointing with more vagueness. Someone asked him if his TV interview Friday was meant as a shot at Del Negro. ‘How many coaches do we have?’ he said. Uh, one? ‘No, we don’t.’ Let me get this straight: The Bulls are a disaster, and it’s the fault of the assistant coaches? Have you ever heard of an owner blaming assistant coaches?”

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Only 1½ games and two teams separate the Bulls from the eighth playoff spot in the East. But they’re keeping their recent success in perspective, particularly since it coincided with team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf condemning the season Friday as a ‘disaster’ and ‘embarrassing.’ ‘We’re not getting carried away we won three in a row,’ captain Kirk Hinrich said. ‘But we’re playing better together as a team. We’re trying to do the right things out there, and it’s paying off. Even during that [five-game] losing streak, we had some tough luck. We got bogged down late in games.’”

More K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “The Bulls already had a planned day off Sunday, but the move proved fortuitous timing for rookie guard Derrick Rose. He was agonizing over asking out of a game for the first time in his career, so one can imagine how Rose would have felt to miss a practice with a slight sprain on the top of his left foot. Instead, Rose enjoyed a day of rest and treatment after a team spokesman said Rose didn’t even undergo tests. ‘They said it’s really not that serious,’ Rose said. ‘I should be fine with extra treatment.’”

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