Most people thought Vinny Del Negro would be fired immediately after the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs. Well, it turns out we’re going to have to wait a few more days to find out anything.
According to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com: “The Chicago Bulls will not make an announcement on the fate of head coach Vinny Del Negro at least until the weekend, general manager Gar Forman said following the Bulls’ first-round series-ending loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The team will have player exit meetings Wednesday and organizational meetings for the next couple of days. No decision will be made until those meetings are concluded and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf returns from out of town this weekend, Forman said.”
So, either: 1) Vinny might actually have a shot at returning next season, or 2) the front office wants to make it look like Vinny has a shot at returning next season. My gut tells me it’s more 2 than 1, but who knows?
Maybe the delay is due in part to the fact that Derrick Rose has been very vocal in his support of Del Negro. Here’s what Derrick had to say immediately after the team’s first round elimination:
“We both came in as rookies. It would be devastating. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the front office. They’re the ones that drafted me, so I guess I’m behind them. It would be unusual, especially since it’s our second time [in the playoffs]. But the league changes constantly. I guess that’s how it is in the NBA. It’s tough to coach up here.
“That’s a guy, when we both came in, he let me have my freedom. He still coached me. He let me make my mistakes. We watched film together every day. He taught me a lot of offense and defense, what I’m supposed to do. But the decision is not up to me. It’s up to the front office, so I’m just going to let them deal with that.”
Regardless of how management feels about Del Negro, that kind of support from the franchise player — I mean, Derrick said Vinny getting canned would be “devastating” — could go a long way. It’s also interesting how Rose said: “They’re the ones that drafted me, so I guess I’m behind them.” He has to guess? It sounds to me like Derrick is more in Vinny’s corner than management’s.
He isn’t the only one. Earlier this season, Charles Barkley gave Del Negro his vote of approval, and even LeBron had some positive things to say after last night’s game: “Vinny and that coaching staff had those guys ready. They have a group of young talent that loves to play the game of basketball and they play hard. There was not one point where they kind of laid down. I’m not trying to make a pitch for Vinny because I know what’s going on — ‘Is Vinny in or is Vinny out?’ That’s not my job, but this team that we played in this series played hard.”
That’s a lot of love coming Del Negro’s way. In the end, it might not make any difference. If management wants him gone, he’s gone. But we won’t know for sure until the weekend.