It was just last April when the Chicago Bulls were pushing the defending champion Celtics to the limit during the first round of the 2009 Playoffs. Though they lost in seven games, the Bulls were looking like a team on the rise and Derrick Rose was looking like the league’s next superstar. Not even seven months later, the Bulls are a mediocre team that’s six games under .500. They’ve dropped 9 of their last 10 games, seven of those losses have been by 10 or more points.
Last night in Atlanta, they were handed a 35 point beating courtesy of the Hawks. The blowout comes at a bad time for coach Vinny Del Negro, who has been rumored to be on the hot seat for the past week.
“I don’t worry about that. I really don’t,” Del Negro told reporters prior to the game against the Hawks. “I go to work every day, doing the best and trying to develop these guys. Those are questions for [general manager] Gar [Forman], [team president John Paxson] and [owner] Jerry Reinsdorf.
Like most team’s that struggle, the blame tends to fall on the coach first. Even though the team has had injury issues since training camp, they’ve got enough talent on that roster to be better than their 7-13 record suggests. Many people have speculated that the team has already given up on Del Negro.
The team’s effort, especially on the defensive end has undoubtedly been bad and they’ve also given up a lot of offensive boards to opponents. In a loss against Toronto last week, the team gave up 18 offensive rebounds and were out-boarded by 21.
But if their defense has been bad, their offense has been even worse. They’ve struggled to put points on the board (they are 28th in the league in scoring) and a lot of the people they’ve counted on for scoring like Rose, Jannero Pargo, John Salmons and James Johnson have not delivered. Looking back in hindsight, re-signing Ben Gordon wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.
With the Celtics, Lakers and the Hawks (again) on their schedule for the next week-and-a-half, things aren’t looking good for Del Negro’s job. The pressure on management to appease angry fans is at an all-time high right now to fire him. Del Negro’s margin of error in these upcoming games is minimal.
Is it fair the Bulls are most likely going to show Del Negro the door in the next week or two? Is it his fault Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas got hurt? Is it his fault Salmons regressed and nobody on his team can really shoot? No, but the coach is always blamed and that’s just the nature of the beast in pro sports.
Does Del Negro deserve to be fired?
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