Another report on the status of Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was posted on ESPN.com Sunday. I agree with some parts, disagree with others -- so here’s a full rundown. Basically, things haven’t changed from the story I wrote in the Dec. 24 editions:
--The chances are close to zero that Del Negro is still the coach next summer when the Bulls start their free-agent push for Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, LeBron James and whoever else.
--The Bulls are NOT anxious to fire Del Negro. They’d rather he finish the season, thank the Bulls for giving him a great career opportunity and help him clean out his office.
--The Bulls have played a tough early schedule (Lakers, Denver, Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta all twice each). The slate starts to get a little easier and Tyrus Thomas is back from a broken arm. So if the Bulls stay competitive for a playoff spot, Del Negro should be fine.
Consider this stat: Once January is over, 13 of the Bulls’ final 17 road games are against teams that currently have a losing record.
--If the Bulls keep dropping winnable home games or losing by 30 points, Del Negro will again be on dangerous ground. There is certainly no guarantee he’ll finish the season.
--For now, the Bulls are surely discussing future coaching candidates. They’d like a player-friendly coach, so that probably rules out Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy.
Lawrence Frank, Byron Scott and Kevin McHale figure to be possibilities. Almost no chance Doug Collins gets involved again. But it’s wide open right now and the established coaches tend to shy away from taking over at mid-season. That’s another reason they’ll try to keep Del Negro.