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Organizational Incompetence, Thy Name is Chicago Bulls

by Ricky O'Donnell on April 14, 2010 at 2:47PM

I woke up this morning having to make sure that yesterday was not some kind of pollen-induced dream. Early spring always means my allergies are peaking, you see. Who knows how that messes with my mind. But no! Yesterday's Bulls stuff actually happened. It was all real. 

I'm sure we've all heard Adrian Wojnarowski's story of the John Paxson-Vinny Del Negro shoving match by now. Hell, if you've been on this since the beginning, you may even be burned out on it already. But we can't let an occasion this momentous pass without me writing a 3,000 words on how incompetent the Bulls are. I feel like this is a yearly passage, but never has it been so obvious.

Though Woj and Yahoo! broke it, I'll give the block quote to K.C. Johnson, if only because he summarized the events of March 30 most succinctly.

According to sources, Paxson came to the doorway of Del Negro's office after Del Negro played Noah 27 minutes, 5 seconds -- 2:05 more than allowed. Del Negro also exceeded Noah's minutes limit during a Feb. 26 home overtime victory over the Trail Blazers, and Noah missed the next 10 games.

According to sources, an angry Paxson began to confront Del Negro vocally, which prompted Del Negro to rise from his chair and walk toward Paxson. At this point, sources said, Paxson grabbed Del Negro by his tie and shoved him.
Insert your favorite Irish v. Italian fight joke here, please.

So it goes without saying that this story is insane, and certainly worthy of all the coverage it's surely getting on the Web, radio, and television right now. It's not "Arenas + guns" juicy, but maybe only a step or two below that. The coach and GM of one of the league's marquee franchises getting physical? Oh yeah, that's bound to get some attention.

To take in this story at another level, however, we need to dig a little deeper.

Remember that April 9th New Jersey loss, the one where Noah didn't play in overtime because of the front office-imposed minute limit? After that game, the Sun-Times' John Jackson reported this tasty morsel of info.

....general manager Gar Forman said that Del Negro could have played Noah more.

According to Forman, who was at the game, player development assistant Lindsey Hunter, who sits behind the bench, approached him after regulation and asked if Noah could play additional minutes.

Forman said he called executive vice president John Paxson (who was home) and was given clearance for Noah to exceed the limit. Forman also said that message was relayed to Del Negro on the bench.

Del Negro made his postgame comments before Forman talked and he was unavailable for follow-up comments.

Now what does all this mean? It means the Bulls are conniving, and vindictive, and are hanging Vinny out to dry.

Why would the team - THE TEAM! - leak the "Noah could have played more" info after the Nets game when they knew full well what happened just 10 days prior? VDN played Noah two minutes over the team-imposed limited and almost got his ass kicked. A week and a half later, he doesn't do it, and the GM calls him out in the media.

Do you think this organization has problems? You're goddamn right they do.

After the New Jersey incident, NQTC wrote one of my favorite Bulls bashing posts ever. They hit everything right on the head, and this was before the VDN-Paxson fight conquered the world. I'm going to block quote a lot of this, but stay with me.

This is part of a pattern of management strategy the Bulls (and many teams, frankly) employ when they are trying to cut ties with a member of the organization.

....I'm just saying that management has used a very shady and backstabbing strategy in recent years to justify sending people out of town.  Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, and to a lesser extent, Tyson Chandler.  What do those names have in common?  Most likely it's that Bulls fans were relieved to finally get rid of them after drama/injuries that surrounded them.  But ask yourself: Who created that drama?

In Ben Gordon's case, it was well-known that both him and Deng would be negotiating new contracts at the same time and that the Bulls would unlikely be able to afford both of them.  This became especially true after all that money was thrown at Ben Wallace and the Bulls cap flexibility was strained.  Reinsdorf always preferred Deng and Bulls management did everything in its power to hang Ben out to dry and make him look bad.  He was riding the bench for years while far inferior players were starting (see: Chris Duhon).  And then when he essentially told the Bulls he would not accept a certain amount, they offered it to him anyways.  He of course rejected it, but even after he tried to reconsider, the Bulls didn't give him a chance (presumably because the offer was a ploy in the first place to make him look bad).

Tyrus Thomas was a similar situation.  Sure he was a head case in his own right, but the Bulls knew the kind of person he was when they drafted him.  Instead of giving him guidance and support, they hung him out to dry at every turn.  The Bulls management continually splashed quotes all over the local media about how immature and unfocused he was.  Why not keep that internal?

Here's why:  The Bulls were building a case to justify moving these people out of town.  If you are a Bulls fan, you are sitting there thinking "I didn't need to be convinced, those guys sucked".  Maybe you are right, but that didn't stop the Bulls from making sure to vilify these people so that they could avoid any sort of fan backlash.

To quote a friend: bingo, bango, BOOM. This is how the Bulls do business, people, and it's awful.

Vinny Del Negro is not a good coach. You know this already. His rotations are a bit shaky. His timeout management is poor. His team appears not to run an offense, and if they do, it looks like one a junior high squad would deploy. He puts zero emphasis on defense, even after a whole off-season of preaching about it to the media. Most importantly, the production he gets out of the Bulls is no greater - perhaps less? - than the sum of their parts.

VDN never should have even been hired, of course. The Bulls tried to give the job to Doug Collins (GAH!), but he passed. They could have had Mike D'Antoni, but they let their wallet and ego get in the way. If they moved quickly, they could have even coaxed Rick Carlisle or Avery Johnson to come to Chicago, but no. They got stuck with Vinny because the organization is cheap and stubborn.

Are you, intelligent basketball fan, really all that surprised that a dude who has never coached any level of basketball in his life before more or less failed in his first two seasons running an NBA team? And even that "fail" is a bit questionable: 2009's Bulls-Celtics first round throw-down was an all-time classic, and Del Negro can make it back-to-back playoff appearances with one more Bulls win or one more Raps loss.

But now it's over. Del Negro will be fired after the season, like he should be. But it didn't have to happen like this. In the process, the Bulls did the impossible: they made Vinny Del Negro a sympathetic figure.

The organization couldn't look worse than it does right now. So now I have to ask the big question: how will this affect free agency? Will this story deter Chris Bosh or D-Wade from making Chicago home? It's impossible to say. But the fact that we even have to debate this while the team is fighting for it's playoff life just shows you how much things need to change.

Paxson needs to quit, just like last year, only the Bulls have to allow it to happen this time around. He can't handle the stress, he doesn't want to handle the stress, and it's not like he's a particularly adept talent evaluater in the first place. VDN? Peace out, for sure. But look at the available coaching names on April 14, and you won't find one that really jumps out at you.

This is going to be a long, slow process back to normality, assuming the Bulls even want to get there. What we've known for a long time, and what was dramatically reinforced yesterday is this: this organization handles its business like a bunch of teenagers. Everything needs to overhauled, and soon, before they're left with max cap space and no player to give it to.

6 Comments | Leave a comment

They aren't even smart enough to build these cases against outgoing personnel, they just build cases against themselves. I feel like I'm back in the late 1990s with Krause screwing things up

I'll say this much for Del Negro, his players sure seem like they want to play for him. He's not an upper echelon NBA coach by any stretch of the imagination, but he's not nearly as bad as I used to think he'd be.

Certainly not Terry Bevington, or Tim Floyd bad.

And I wonder if Noah or Rose would have developed as well as they have under the tutelage of Scott Skiles? I kind of doubt it.

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They aren't even smart enough to build these cases against outgoing personnel, they just build cases against themselves. I feel like I'm back in the late 1990s with Krause screwing things up

Serious fan of the website, lots of your articles have truly helped me out. Awaiting up-dates!

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