NBA / Apr 12, 2010 / 5:11 pm

The Bulls are throwing Vinny Del Negro under the bus

Joakim Noah (photo. Monte Isom)

If you missed it over the weekend, there was a mini-controversy in Chicago regarding Joakim Noah‘s playing time.

While Noah is playing through a sore foot, the Bulls front office had been on the same page with coach Vinny Del Negro about limiting Noah’s minutes as the team fights for its playoff lives. But during last Friday’s double-overtime loss to the Nets, there was a breakdown. Since Noah had already hit his agreed-upon limit (35 mins) in the fourth quarter, Del Negro kept him on the bench for all but 12 seconds of the two overtime sessions, which no doubt had a role in Chicago losing a crucial game they had no business losing.

After the fact, Bulls GM Gar Foreman said management had decided during the Nets game that it would be OK for Noah to play beyond 35 minutes, but Del Negro apparently didn’t get the word until it was too late.

“I felt we could stretch (Noah) out a little just because of the importance of the game,” Del Negro said. “So I had Lindsey (Hunter) go talk to Gar about it to make sure it was OK … but I hadn’t got the authority yet to do that. When I got the OK to put him back in, I put him back in during that first overtime to try to get that stop. So there was some miscommunication.”

Of all the analysts I heard discussing this, Cheryl Miller made the most sense. She said Vinny should have just played Noah as he saw fit, no matter what he’d heard from management. Del Negro’s job is the one that’s (reportedly) on the line, so if he gets fired for insubordination because he played his second-best player in a must-win game, surely he can sleep at night and it won’t be long before somebody else gives him a job. But what would bother Del Negro even more is if he went down having NOT played Noah, and the New Jersey loss is the one that keeps Chicago out of the playoffs.

Coming off yesterday’s big win at Toronto — during which Noah played 38 minutes — hopefully it’s all a moot point. But with this situation and seemingly throughout the season, it seems Chicago management has been distancing themselves from Del Negro like he’s the only one screwing up whenever something goes wrong. But they deserve blame here.

What did they think would happen by hiring a man who had no previous head coaching experience? Del Negro is going to need time to work out the rough patches and find his identity as a coach. Ideally that’s not supposed to happen on the NBA level, but that’s what Bulls management was asking for when they hired him. Less than two full seasons into the deal, Del Negro shouldn’t be on the hot seat, and the Bulls should be publicly supporting him at every turn rather than allow the speculation to fester. Especially if Del Negro makes the playoffs in each his first two years. Even if the Bulls miss out on the playoffs this year, Del Negro deserves at least another season to prove himself.

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  • Showtime

    He’s the head coach he should make the call regardless what management says. No coach should accept being told who to play. He sent Lindsey Hunter to ask for permission? He should be FIRED for not having the balls to make that call

  • hahns

    wow…del negro is a pansy- you do what you have to do to win- it would make sense if they weren’t on the cusp of the playoffs.

    del negro must be a shoooooooooort leash if he has to clear playing time decisions with upper management DURING the game. jeez. what a tool.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Sounds like Gar Foreman took one right out of the Jerry Jones play book.

  • Showtime

    By the way – Garman should try that shit with a guy like Jerry Sloan, Pop, Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Stan van Gundy, …. and we might have the first ‘Coach kills GM with clipboard’ headline

  • 808

    I see both sides here…

    Yeah, OK…Del Negro is stupid for not thinking for himself and following managements decisions to a “T.”

    I didn’t see the game, though…was Noah making that much of an impact, where his benching was a huge factor in the loss? Maybe other players can step up and play some D? Giving up over a buck-twenty to the Nets and we’re concerned mostly with Noah??? Maybe that Derrick Rose guy could’ve taken a little better care of the ball and cut some of those turnovers…

    Ah…but Del Negro is the scapegoat, which usually is a good sign that a firing is looming.

    Stupid, too, because, the INTENT of sitting Noah is to keep him rested for a playoff run (and to prolong his career). Of course, if Noah sits, then no one plays D, Derrick Rose turns over the ball 7 times, Chicago loses, and misses the playoffs. But if Noah’s injury gets worse, do the Bulls even stand a chance of getting out of the first round anyway??? Get my point????

    Sucks to be Vinnie. Rest Noah (like you’re told to) and you catch hell for not trying to win the game; play Noah, and if he gets hurt, you catch shit for disobeying management AND you’re selfish for thinking only about getting a win.

  • Lee

    I agree with showtime. If this happens again Vinnie might do his own “Spreewell moment” !!

  • quest???

    In my opinion, del negro is becoming a good coach. It is not his fault this team has had the injuries it had had. I believe that had there not been so many injuries, they would have secured a playoff spot.

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  • Mike Mihalow

    I agree with post #8

  • Promoman

    Sitting Joakim was the right call. He’s a hustle player and that’s the main reason he’s valuable. Players like that can’t really compensate with skill when they get injured. The playoffs are more intense and physical as it is and he needs to rest that foot as much as possible.

  • Brent

    Austin Burton you, and some of the people responding to your story, would be well advised to not comment on issues you’re not sufficiently informed about.

    I am a follower of Chicago Bulls basketball and what Vinnie Del Negro did in keeping Joakim Noah out of the crucial overtime minutes had nothing to do with him trying protect Noah and adhering to an agreed formula. This guy has been an aggravating thorn in Noah’s flesh since he arrived on the scene as Bulls coach. The Bulls have lost countless important games due to his personal pettiness and strange dislike for one of the finest young players with what many admit is a great personality.

    This act was strictly personal! It wasn’t the first instance and it’s a habit he has practiced where Noah’s concerned since he arrived as Bulls coach in Chicago and in nearly all of these instances it has led to Chicago defeats in games they were poised to win with the utmost comfort.
    For those commenting on issues such as this that they have no history or background of, I would suggest they leave it to people who know and follow the Chicago Bulls. If you don’t know what’s going on SHUT UP!

  • ballin

    del negro sucks.

    i’m a celtics fan, and watching del negro get easily out-coached by doc rivers last playoffs was laughable.

    epic series though

  • NTstateOFmind

    vinny del negro = master of the pointless time-out

    …as a chicago fan its painfully frustrating to watch games, ESPECIALLY that nets game. ugh.

  • BrentBlowsHimself

    Brent, your head is so far up your own ass, you must see the world from behind your tonsils. There’s no way you follow the Bulls as closely as you claim to or you’d know that Vinny thinks the world of Noah – he’s on record consistently on this subject. And Noah’s on the record as praising Vinny’s patience and tutelage. Knock if off, you blowhard. There is a good coach emerging in Chicago that’s about to get tossed. Soon enough, I expect, you’ll be asking “why can’t we get a guy like that?” Maybe not in the next year, but soon enough.

  • Brent

    Hey, BrentBlowshimself or Vinnie Del Negro using a pseudonym, you don’t fool anybody with your idiocy! His praising Noah and pulling him when he’s supposed to be playing him is his little trick, but you’re such an idiot you can’t see through his little trick. But by the way, I just forgot that I’m responding to Vinnie Del Negro using a fake name.

  • T Khan

    If any body it should be John Paxon who shoud be fired. Paxon Brothers have always assembled mediacor teams. And Pax is way over his head in treating Vinnie so disrespectfully. Besides he is also stupid to train a rookie coach at Bull’s expense and now wants to fire him prematurely when all the signs are telling that Vinnie’s team plays hard for him. Pax can fire Vinnie and hire someone else, however I doubt whoever the new coah would be, Pax wouldn;t have the balls to dicatate his will on him.

    Too bad Vinnie will be a good coach but he won’t be in Chicago!