The Vinny Watch: Will the axe fall tomorrow?


According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Vinny Del Negro met with Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on Sunday, but the embattled coach’s 11th-hour argument to keep his job won’t change what the Tribune has reported since December 2009: Del Negro is expected to be dismissed with one year and roughly $2 million remaining on his guaranteed three-year contract. Barring a snag, the Bulls will make this news official Tuesday.”

Shock. Surprise. More shock.

Of course, we won’t know “for certain” this is true until tomorrow…but it feels about right, doesn’t it? Vinny — for all his good points and his bad — was more or less hired into lame duck status. A place holder. A book mark. A footnote. An afterthought.

At this point, there’s really no reason to argue his merits (overachieved with an undertalented team) or his pitfalls (terrible out of timeouts and with in-game adjustments). The Del Negro era is (most probably) over.

So what now?

According to the ESPN NBA Rumors page, here are some possible successors:

Dallas assistant Dwane Casey:
Ken Berger of CBS Sports writes that Casey “would receive serious consideration” if Del Negro is let go.

Byron Scott:
He’s had success with an All-Star point guard already in Chris Paul, and says he’d be open to Chicago.

Ex-Nets coach Lawrence Frank:
When Del Negro was on the outs in December, his name was mentioned.

Boston associate coach Tom Thibodeau:
He could bring a defensive mindset to the team.

Doug Collins:
Would he leave his TV gig to coach in the league again?

Kevin McHale, Maurice Cheeks. The Chicago Tribune reports these two could be in the mix.

I sincerely hope that McHale isn’t  serious consideration. Love the name, hate the baggage. In fact, I’m not real high on this list in general, although Thibodeau kind of sparks my interest. However, the Bulls were (when healthy) pretty good on defense and abominable on offense. Tom would certainly need an offensive-minded assistant.


18 Responses to The Vinny Watch: Will the axe fall tomorrow?

    Wes May 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    So who among the possible candidates is demonstrably better than VDN? It’s just the usual pu pu platter of retreads and mediocrities. No championships and a couple finals appearances (Scott???)otherwise nothing. Why not opt for continuity and let VDN and young core develop together? A la Popovich and Sloan…none of those candidates listed above are worth a crap.

    Evan May 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I completely agree with Wes. I hope VDN stays. However, I’d love to see Tom Thibodeau join VDN as an assistant coach.

  3. Trey May 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    I think that VDN is going to a good coach one day, but he cut his teeth here in Chicago and his welcome has worn itself out. He has the qualities that people like in a coach but just couldn’t learn what he needed to fast enough. He was a great head coach on days where the Bulls didn’t have a game but when it came to game time he simply couldn’t cut it.

  4. bobbysimmons May 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    We’re gonna fire VDN and get one of those clowns? Doug Collins ain’t coming, and there is a reason the rest of those guys are out of jobs. Tom Thibodeau has lost the appeal he had 2 years ago, and I’ll hate Byron Scott until he gets rid of that 19th century mustache.

  5. Ryan May 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Would there be any possibility to keep Vinny as an Assistant? I don’t think I have seen this move, but better than paying him a full year for nothing. I think his relationship with players and the staff would be beneficial for one more year, head coach or not.

    I like Scott, but he can disappear when needed, Thibodeau would be too similar to Vinny, Collins and McHale would work, but I enjoy them much better announcing, Van Gundy has always been ok, and Frank is a water-boy turned coach. I remember rumors of Doc Rivers, but there is too much history with the Bulls/Celtics smack talk for me to actually want the guy.

  6. Bullsfan22 May 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Unfortunately the front office of the Bulls has had problems in the past (recent and older), so nothing is guaranteed with anyone. Pax definitely got himself in trouble with that shoving match with Del Negro last month. Del Negro might not be Jackson, Auerbach, Brown or Riley, but at least he is passionate and lets the players play. He’s done fairly well the two years he’s been with the team, and if the star players back him up and endorse him, why not try and keep the connection going? Of course, none of us know what is happening behind the curtain, and what the organization does will be to their credit and/fault. Hopefully, whatever decision they do make, won’t comeback to haunt them (again)!

  7. dakota May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    If Vinny does get the axe (which I hope he doesn’t), I’d love to see him coach at the college level. He already has experience working with young players (Derrick, Jo, James and Taj) and could make a large splash in the less challenging field.

  8. dakota May 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    By the way, has anyone ever thought of putting Stacy King on the bench as an assistant?

    dlouis May 3, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    @Ryan – Why would Vinny want to stay as an assistant? He would be admitting his own failure. It seems as if Vinny has a strong NBA network and has earned respect in the league. I’m sure he will end up on someone’s bench for a couple more seasons before getting another crack as a head coach.

    I have a lot of respect for Vinny, and I think, considering the circumstances, he has done a very commendable job. Would I like him to stay? Yes, of course. Do I think he needs to go in order to bring some sort of normalcy and stabilization? Yes. Do I think he needs to go in order to sign a big FA? Definitely.

    Honestly, the only one of those guys I would be comfortable with would be Lawrence Frank. I think his legacy (if you could call it that) was severely damaged by the Nets this season. He put together a string of good teams in the early 00s, and I think he could do the same here. Collins wouldn’t be bad either, but he already turned the job down once, and his family is still in Philadelphia. Plus, its not like he accomplished much in his career. I could see the team playing hard to win one for Doug before he goes back into coaching retirement

    Thibodeau would be a bad hire. All things considered, we were a pretty decent defensive team and an atrocious offensive team. Why hire him to turn things around on offense. I don’t want anyone from Dallas touching this team. Dallas could be the softest team in the NBA and that attitude comes from the coaching staff. Which is why I would want McHale. Throw away his stint last season, and he was 19-12 in 04-05 after inheriting Flip Saunder’s 25-26 squad. In reality, McHale probably just brought discipline to Saunder’s existing systems. Byron Scott just seems like a piranha.

    Jake in Minnie May 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    Maybe Erik Spoelstra, if Riley returns:

    Otherwise, I don’t see anyone listed as an improvement over VDN.

    Trm3 May 3, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    A raw deal for VDN. The Bulls knew what they were hiring..we obviously thought we should have been to the Finals with all the injuries and losing our best scorer. Really unfair. Considering he didn’t do that bad with what he had to work with. Tough franchise to work with if 2 playoff appearances in ur first 2 years gets u fired. U can’t build something good if we keep firing coaches after only 2 or 3 seasons. Scott Skiles was good but players didn’t like winning so tuned him out.

    Since Doug has come back into the mix..I’d like him, so would players I would think. Also wouldn’t mind Scott or Avery Johnson. But I guess we’ll see??

  12. bobbysimmons May 3, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    Off topic, but why do people say Brandon Jennings had a great rookie season and was in contention for rookie of the year? I was reading an article on ESPN and they described Jennings as “coming off a brilliant rookie year.” The guy shot 37%! DEAD LAST in players who qualified to be ranked! People are so stupid sometimes, just like people who hate on VDN.

    Tony C. May 4, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    It’s official, and the most important move the Bulls could make. VDN was a bad coach, and bringing a competent one in will move the team considerably forward.

    Boppinbob May 4, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    Hey Tony, if the available coaches are competent why aren’t they still head coaches in the NBA? While I was not thrilled with VDN because he didn’t develop his bench depth and continued to play Pargo. He did take the Bulls to the playoffs both seasons that he coached them. Sometimes it is wiser to stay with the horse you know. But if Rhiney decided to back VDN then he would have been trying to replace two members of his management team (Gar and Pax). Someone has to go due to the circus that was the season ending fiasco. So unless we get a head coach from a team with a better record than the Bulls then we are looking at a down grade in coaching capabilities. X’s and O’s are somewhat important in basketball but it is easy to say get the ball to Michael or Kobe or Lebron and see what happens. It is my belief that VDN would be a steadily improving coach based on D. Rose’s learning curve. The success of any future Bulls head coach will depend on how quickly D. Rose develops. I do not care who is hired as the new head coach as long as they are capable of continuing to provide the development of the Bull’s young stars into superstars.

    dlouis May 4, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    @Jake – Honestly, Spoelstra would be a downgrade from Vinny. He’s the guy did didn’t foul Paul Pierce in the last second of a game at the top of the key. You don’t need a scouting report to know that that’s Pierce’s spot. Plus, look at how good of a job he did developing Beasley.

    @boppinbob – I think you’re right. Reinsdorf had to pick between Vinny and Paxson, and honestly, he made the right decision. As much as people ride him, Paxson has done a good job building this team. He has been solid in the draft (Gordon, Noce, Deng, Hinrich, Noah, Thabo, Rose, Taj & hopefully Asik), bringing in guys like PJ Brown, Hunter, Miller, Salmons were great personnel moves and he literally pulled off a miracle trading Ben Wallace and Larry Hughes. He over paid for Wallace, Noce, Deng and Hinrich, but those ended up not hurting the team, and maybe trading Salmons instead of Hinrich may not have been the right move, but it was something he had to do in order to get a FA this summer. Plus, we all saw how Salmons struggled at the 2 spot earlier this season. It may not have been popular or beneficial in the short term, but I believe it was the right move. Looking at what Paxson started with, and what he has now, he has done a very good job.

    reggie May 4, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    Wait let me set this record str8 VDN yes has his bad coaching moves as do players have there bad games but its all about learning so what they had a fight did anyone die, no was there blood no but what there was passion desire to win, yet the focus was all about the team seeing eye to eye is not always possible but what is possible is that winning is what happens VDN took us to the playoffs two str8 yrs and one series was the greatest or one of the greatest in NBA history vinny you proved you deserve to coach Da bulls yet paxton and gar are gonna send you out careful what you ask for paxton you might just get it and then you may be sad you got it Rose wants him, MOAH wants him we as fans want vinny so what is the problem you don;t want him tough puddy pax get over it already we the team have spoken let vinny stay he has one more year on his contract the free agents will come no matter who is coaching here we have a great young team and its only getting better so let vinny at least finish his contract out wtf, and paxton this is yr make or break year to get Rose the help he needs either get it done or you are out gone finished your head on platter Peace

    Max May 4, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    @Tony C they way you have been riding VDN all year in your post and your guest Blogs. I bet you ran to the corner and rubbed one out when the news broke today! Christmas came early for you! I know everyone is going to be anxious to get a new coach but I hope the Bulls wait. Boston is a better team than the Cavs. If you watched the first two games I hope you can see that. All that Lebron talk about he’s a lock to stay. Not if he gets bounced out in the second round. They have no money to spare and that team is getting old! I think the Lakers go down to the Suns or Spurs. Phil might come coach Chicago if Lebron wants to be coached by him. It’s not impossible and with Phil and Lebron I can see a sign and trade for Amare or Bosh. Deng is a nice piece to add to a team losing it’s star. It’s something for nothing. Or I can see them all going to the Knicks! My point is nothing is Impossible! We were taught that by #23 in the 80’s and 90’s

    Nicky C May 4, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    Just curious what all you guys (especially Matt) think…

    …do the Bulls hire a coach first, then try to land a free agent, or do you try to get the free agent and allow Player X to help decide/woo a particular coach?

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