Bulls

Bulls Preparing for Lengthy Coaching Search

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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.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.