A collective sigh seems to have been let out across Bulls Nation today—not a sigh of relief, but one that usually precedes the words, “Oh boy.”
What was the reason for this collective sigh of what appears to be imminent suffering, you ask? The hiring of Phoenix Suns assistant GM Vinny Del Negro as the Bulls' new head coach just days after Doug Collins backed out of taking the job.
John Paxson has put all of his eggs in one basket with this hire. Del Negro has never coached in his life, he brings zero experience to a team that honestly looks like it could use some, and many believed that there were better candidates out there.
In short, Paxson has just put his neck on the chopping block—and Del Negro’s performance this season is either going to drop the guillotine or give Paxson a last-minute pardon.
Bulls fans shouldn't go out and start bashing Del Negro immediately. The man is starting with a clean slate—he hasn’t done anything great yet, but neither has he done anything wrong.
You can hate Paxson all you want for the hire, but don’t count out Del Negro before he’s even put a team on the floor.
Hoping for the best may not be very comforting, but that’s all that can be done right now.
With that said, I question the timing of this move. It seems to have come from so far out of nowhere, and with such quickness, that I wonder why they didn’t hold off on signing Del Negro until after the NBA Finals.
This would have given the team a chance to speak with Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau and several other coaches, and to make this decision seem less brash.
I can see why, after a two month search, the team wanted to lock up a coach—especially after Mike D’Antoni and Collins both stood the Bulls up on prom night.
But if they’re going to play the role of the jilted lover, wouldn't they find a prettier date to take to the prom instead of the first guy that passes their way? Were the Bulls honestly worried that another team was going to sign him?
Del Negro is 41 years old and has been out of the league for seven years now. He may still be able to relate to the players, but one has to wonder how a team without a clear-cut leader, and still quite a bit of young talent, is going to react to a man that hasn’t even coached his son's second grade basketball team—let alone an NBA game.
I’ll give Del Negro two months before I start to pass judgment on him, but that will be when Bulls fans can start to figure out where their season is headed.
He has the number one pick in either Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley and a whole roster of up-and-down players who can under- or over-achieve every night. It will be his goal to nurture that pick and get his players to play ball like they did two years ago (49 wins) instead last year (49 losses).
So don’t pass judgment on Del Negro just yet. A year from now is when we’ll get to see how things pan out.
We’ll either be riding high and praising John Paxson as a genius, or we’ll be stuck in the same boat we are right now.
Del Negro is an interesting experiment—let’s just hope he doesn’t blow up in our faces.