The Chicago Bulls have scheduled a Tuesday news conference to announce the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro, according to multiple reports, including the Chicago Tribune. Del Negro has been hanging on the vine since the end of the Bulls' brief playoff run last week. It has been widely rumored since December that the end of the season would spell the end of V.D.N. in the CHI.
Del Negro has been widely considered overmatched as an NBA head coach. V.D.N. had no coaching experience whatsoever when the Bulls hired him in 2008. League personnel and writers constantly remark on the simplicity of Chicago's play sets, and you can't go two quarters without someone arguing the Bulls underachieve given their talent.
The Bulls' last coaching search was a doozy. Chicago had fired Scott Skiles on Christmas Eve in 2007 and let his top assistant, Jim Boylan, run out the season. It didn't go well, and Boylan was quickly dismissed at season's end. The ensuing hiring process seemed to take a dozen moon cycles. The Bulls flirted with Mike D'Antoni before dollars and/or defense got in the way. D'Antoni fled to New York, leaving Chicago considering less in-demand options, including former Bulls and Pistons coach Doug Collins. Collins eventually rejected the job, and the Bulls turned to Del Negro, then a front office employee of the Suns. The hiring was panned, and Del Negro never really won the hearts and minds of the NBA world.
As in 2008 when the Bulls had the No. 1 pick in the draft -- though that pick wasn't acquired until fairly late in the coaching search -- Chicago is in good position to draw the attention of top candidates. The Bulls have two young stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to go with enough cap space to sign a max-level free agent. Chicago is one of only three 2010 playoff teams with enough cap space to sign a non-incumbent max free agent. (Oklahoma City and Miami are the others.)
The biggest question may not be which coach the Bulls target, but who is in charge of the search. General manager Gar Forman will likely be the trigger man, though his boss John Paxson (who has attempted to take more of a back seat, but still finds time to allegedly punch his coach) and team owner Jerry Reinsdorf figure to be heavily involved. Reinsdorf's involvement, in fact, is what led to D'Antoni's flight in 2008.