Bulls Fire Del Negro
By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 4, 2010 2:20PM
We knew this day was coming... we just weren't sure the exact date until now. The Bulls have called an 11am press conference where GM Gar Forman will announce the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro after two years at the helm. He had one year and $2 million remaining on his contract. A curious choice to begin with, Del Negro has been on thin ice for much of his tenure. His departure looked imminent back in December before five wins against Western Conference teams with winning records and winning nine of 11 games overall helped him keep his job. But disagreements with GM Gar Forman and executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, including one that evidently got physical sealed the coach's fate.
Not that he didn't go down swinging.
In meetings with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf over the weekend and Forman yesterday, Del Negro plead his case for keeping his job. He pointed to a regular season 82-82 record and two trips to the playoffs -- with a roster built to maximize cap space for this summer's free agent bonanza rather than winning -- and the rapid development of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah under his tutelage.
And to be fair, he did do those things. But we all knew he was nothing more than a low-cost place holder until this summer. Summer 2010 has long been circled in red on the franchise's calendar as the time that the pieces all fall into place. The Bulls have the money and cap space to shop the cream of the free agent crop. And that superstar, along with the likes of Rose and Noah, along with a new, bigger name coach will hopefully lead the Bulls back to the ranks of the league's elite. Names already popping up as successors to Del Negro include Doug Collins (who the team did pursue two years ago), Lawrence Frank, Kevin McHale, Maurice Cheeks, Byron Scott and Dwane Casey. We're sure other names will be mentioned. Hell, maybe we'll even see Phil Jackson return to Chicago as he seems to be ready to leave La La Land once again. The biggest question is whether Reinsdorf, Paxson and Forman want to make this decision themselves, or wait and see if helping choose the new coach can be used as leverage to help land LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or (most likely) Chris Bosh.