While Chicago Bull fans wait for official word that coach Del Negro has been fired, team management is preparing for life after Vinny. As much as 2010 is the summer of great free agent players there are many smart, experienced coaches available for the Bulls to interview.
Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy appears to be one of the top options for the Bulls. He is the opposite of Del Negro. He is defensive minded and experienced being a former Knicks and Rockets head coach. Van Gundy is also well respected by players and could help draw in a top free agent. He is a seasoned playoff coach considering in 11 coaching seasons he only missed the playoffs 2 years. Look for Jeff Van Gundy to be one of the first contacted when the search begins but he must be willing to leave the relatively low stress job of NBA analyst with ABC/ESPN.
Lawrence Frank was fired earlier this season by the New Jersey Nets after starting 0-16. As bad as that seems, Frank would be a good choice for the Bulls. Inarguably, the Nets had little talent this year considering they only totaled 12 wins after his departure. He was the scapegoat, not the problem. He had success early with the Nets while there was still experienced talent on the roster and could do a lot with a talented, young Bulls roster. He was also well liked in the Nets locker room but not considered the type of coach players would walk over. Frank may choose to sit out a year and collect a check from the Nets but he should still be on the short list as the Bulls begin searching for a new coach.
Other Notable Mentions
Johnson has been at the top of many coaching searches since being fired by the Mavericks a few years ago. He has been looking for the right situation and, from a talent perspective, the Bulls look good. Avery is considered a defensive minded coach and would be a good fit for the Bulls who could use certainly use defensive improvement. Being a former point guard, he could also help grow Rose’s skills as he ascends to NBA stardom. But in a recent interview, Johnson was critical of Bulls management. “You will listen to a conversation, but from hearing what we’ve all heard in the media about some internals situations, I don’t think anybody would want to go into that same situation under that type of duress.” Unless the Bulls overpay him or chairman Reinsdorf dismisses Paxson and Forman along with Del Negro, Avery will be hesitant to pursue the Bulls coaching job.
The most unlikely of scenarios but Jackson’s current contract with the Lakers expires this year and maybe he’d consider coming back to the Bulls for one more go around. The most likely scenarios have Jackson resigning for 1-2 more years or retiring but we can hold out hope, right? Jackson would bring instant credibility to the Bulls and would go far in signing a top free agent like James, Wade or Bosh. Typically he looks for rosters stacked with talent. Signing another star to play with Rose and Noah would make the team look pretty good but not quite the level of his previous Bull and Laker teams. Unfortunately the Bulls would have to pay top dollar (12 million+) for Phil and convince him to leave his beloved west coast weather both of which are very unlikely.
Other Notable Mentions