Bulls Preparing for Lengthy Coaching Search

60732.jpg

Bulls Preparing for Lengthy Coaching Search

Tuesday, May 4, 2010
6:18 P.M.

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

Now that Vinny Del Negro has officially been let go, who do you think the Bulls should hire as their next head coach? Please post your choices in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an e-mail.

My choice would be Jeff Van Gundy, who's spent the last three seasons entertaining us as one of the lead analysts on ABC and ESPN's coverage of the NBA. Van Gundy won in New York and Houston, and his self-deprecating wit would play well in a big-city market like Chicago. Plus, he's coached some big stars in the past like Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. The knock on Van Gundy is that he plays a slow-down style and tends to wear on his players with his demanding approach. But after two years of my cousin Vinny, maybe a demanding coach who emphasizes defense is exactly what the Bulls need. Derrick Rose is already an All-Star, and has established himself as one of the top five point guards in the league. But Derrick needs a coach who will force him to improve his deficiencies on defense, and Van Gundy might be the right guy.

If not Van Gundy, how about Maurice Cheeks, a Chicago native who is currently working as an assistant coach on Scott Brooks' staff in Oklahoma City? Cheeks was an outstanding point guard with the 76'ers in the 80's, and he's been a head coach in Philadelphia and Portland. Surely, he could work with Rose on improving his defensive skills, and would play the up-tempo style the Bulls' front office seems to favor. Cheeks is also one of the classiest guys in the league, and would represent the organization well. Who will ever forget him grabbing the microphone in Portland to sing the national anthem with a young lady who forgot the words in a case of stage fright?

We will be hearing all kinds of names in the coming days and weeks, but don't look for Doug Collins to be one of them. Negotiations to bring Collins in two years ago fell apart, and we've heard Doug might have been the choice back in December if the Bulls had pulled the trigger on firing Del Negro. It doesn't sound like the 58-year-old Collins wants to go through the drama for a third time, and he's reportedly "intrigued" about the idea of coaching the 76ers, the team that drafted him into the NBA back in the early 70's. Collins met with Philadelphia officials for five hours at his Arizona home last Saturday, and he's also talked with the New Orleans Hornets about the coaching vacancy.

Bulls General Manager Gar Forman made it clear at Tuesday's news conference that he would be the guy heading up the coaching search, not V.P. of Basketball Operations John Paxson. Which means some of the names that have been rumored as leading candidates may not be quite as accurate anymore. We've heard the Bulls did a lot of background research on former NBA head coaches Lawrence Frank and Eric Musselman. Frank had only moderate success in New Jersey, while Musselman was a washout at Golden State and Sacramento. And if they were among Paxson's favorites, that opinion might not hold true for Forman.

Forman says he's not putting any limitations on the search, and would be willing to talk to current NBA assistants and college head coaches. He also didn't rule out the possibility of waiting for coaches still in the playoffs, like Boston's defensive-minded assistant Tom Thibodeau or the ultimate prize, 10-time NBA champion Phil Jackson, whose contract with the Lakers runs out at the end of the playoffs. Any way you look at it, the stage has been set for a lengthy search with lots of twists and turns before we reach the finish line.

Should Bulls Fans Root for Celtics?

If you're like me, and actually believe the Bulls have a shot at signing free agent superstar LeBron James, should we root for the Cavs to get knocked out by Boston in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals? The commonly held belief around the league is LeBron will re-sign with Cleveland this summer, but if the Cavs get knocked out early, James might be forced to take a long, hard look at the current roster. Shaq is 38, Antawn Jamison is 34 and the rest of the team is filled with mediocre players, with the exception of point guard Mo Williams, a talented but inconsistent scorer. LeBron might decide he has a much better chance to win championships if he leaves Cleveland and joins forces with D-Rose and Joakim in Chicago or Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin with the Clippers.

We've heard a lot of speculation about the possibility of Dwyane Wade returning to Chicago, but from everything we've heard, he's staying in Miami, and will probably be joined by at least one other All-Star caliber player in free agency this summer. The Bulls' best hope of becoming an instant contender lies with LeBron becoming dissatisfied with his prospects to win in Cleveland, and searching for a new team. He's been effusive in praising the Bulls' young talent during the regular season and playoffs, and we know he truly likes spending time in Chicago. It might be a long shot, but crazier things have happened in the NBA.

As always, I'd love to hear what you think about the coaching search or the Bulls' plans for free agency. We'll print some of your suggestions in future posts.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

update-121.jpg
AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."