Sources confirmed a yahoo.com report that John Paxson, Bulls vice president of basketball operations, shoved coach Vinny Del Negro during an argument inside the coaches office at the United Center following a March 30 loss to Phoenix.
The disagreement involved the minutes given to ailing Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed 10 games between Feb. 27 and March 20 because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The Bulls lost all 10.
Paxson is generally calm and collected, but still has a feisty streak, which is displayed on occasion. Del Negro did not react aggressively, sources agreed.
There has been a gaping disconnect between Del Negro and Bulls management since a tough stretch in December and it appears certain Del Negro will be let go when the season ends, whether the Bulls make the playoffs or not.
Here's the link:
Sources: Bulls VP Paxson shoved Del Negro
Noah played 27 minutes in the Phoenix game and his defense was invaluable against Suns star Amare Stoudemire. But Bulls management was already upset by Noah playing 27 minutes in a Feb. 26 win over Portland, the last time he took the court before missing the 10 games with a sore foot.
The incident with Paxson helps explain the mess that occurred late in Friday's double-overtime loss at New Jersey. Del Negro refused to play Noah for even a 3.6-second stretch at the end of the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed a defensive stop to clinch the win.
Following that game, general manager Gar Forman told reporters Del Negro did have permission to play Noah during the overtimes, but the third-year center took the court only for a few seconds after tipping in the go-ahead basket with 48 seconds left in regulation.
If the Bulls end up missing the playoffs, the loss to New Jersey and disagreement over Noah's minutes will loom large. The Bulls squandered a 7-point lead in the final minute of the first overtime.
The Bulls need to beat Boston on Tuesday and Charlotte on the road Wednesday to clinch a playoff spot. If they lose one of those games, Toronto can claim the No. 8 playoff seed by beating the New York Knicks at home on Wednesday.