Bulls

Can Del Negro handle pressure of leading revamped Clippers?

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Can Del Negro handle pressure of leading revamped Clippers?

With the acquisition of superstar point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers are the talk of the NBA these days. With the likes of Paul, reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin, promising young center DeAndre Jordan, free-agent signee Caron Butler, veteran Chauncey Billups and bench depth highlighted by scoring point guard Mo Williams, the "other" team in the City of Angels has a chance to not only make some noise this season, but even surpass their Staples Center co-resident, the Lakers.

For all of the pieces the team has, however, their is one perceived weakness: Vinny Del Negro. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke recently wrote an excellent piece about the pressure facing the Clippers head coach.

Del Negro is obviously a familiar name to Chicagoans from his stint stalking the Bulls sidelines. In his two seasons in the Windy City, the Bulls finished with identical 41-41 records and first-round playoff exits.

Aside from the drama that surrounded his final days in Chicago, Del Negro was a much-maligned figure locally, as he was viewed as a coach incapable of taking the team to the next level, something magnified by Tom Thibodeau's success in his first season. Thibodeau also had more talent to work with, but the fact that Del Negro, at the least, didn't hinder the development of Derrick Rose, among others, has to be noted.

Subsequently hired by the Clippers the summer following his dismissal, Del Negro seemed to be entering a situation in which there were few expectations for a perennially-losing franchise, but a rough start to last season immediately turned up the heat and although his young squad improved as the season went on -- even beating the Bulls upon his return to Chicago -- an early-season pregame press conference in L.A. when the Bulls were in town, in which local writers aggressively questioned his competence as a coach, showed it wasn't all smooth sailing. But that was then and this is now.

Del Negro, equipped with a roster that's the envy of the majority of the league, has to oversee a successful campaign in the last year of his contract. While he's often quietly lauded for giving young players the room to improve, this season can't simply be a care-taking effort, as the stakes are just too high, with Paul only committed to the Clippers for two seasons, Billups and Butler likely on the downsides of their careers, the organization committing to Jordan with a four-year extension and Griffin's eventual free agency looming, not to mention trading assets like up-and-coming shooting guard Eric Gordon, former All-Star center Chris Kaman, second-year small forward and 2010 lottery pick Al-Farouq Aminu and perhaps most importantly, the Timberwolves' 2012 first-round draft choice (likely to be a fairly high selection in a loaded draft class) to the Hornets in exchange for Paul.

Can Del Negro surpass expectations for his own performance to help meet expectations for the team, preserving his own coaching shelf life in the process? What do you think?

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Does Coby White solve the Bulls' point guard problems?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Does Coby White solve the Bulls' point guard problems?

Phil Thompson and Mark Carman join David Kaplan on the panel.

01:00 - Can Coby White start right away? Is he a long term fit on the roster? And would Patrick Beverley be a good fit on the Bulls?

04:15 - The guys also discuss the price to move up in the draft and why the cost was too steep to pay.

06:00 - Cubs phenom Adbert Alzolay shines in his major league debut.

11:00 - Kap talks with Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis to get a preview of the NHL draft. Will the Blackhawks pick be ready to play this year? And what are the chances the Hawks make a trade at the draft? Plus with money to spend in free agency this year veterans like Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski are on the teams radar this offseason.

17:00 - Nascar driver Jesse Iwuji stops by to tell his unique journey from the Navy to Nascar driver. Plus how he helped honor a fallen hero last year at Chicagoland Speedway.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Coby White, Bulls will square off against Zion Williamson, Pelicans in Las Vegas Summer League

Coby White, Bulls will square off against Zion Williamson, Pelicans in Las Vegas Summer League

Coby White and Zion Williamson know each other well, having squared off on three separate occasions last season in the Duke-North Carolina rivalry.

While will get another chance against Williamson during the Las Vegas Summer League, as the Bulls will face the New Orleans Pelicans on July 8.

The Bulls announced their full Las Vegas Summer League schedule on Friday, which consists of our preliminary round games.

July 5, 6:30 p.m. - Bulls vs. Lakers
July 7, 6:30 p.m. - Bulls vs. Cavaliers
July 8, 8:30 p.m. - Bulls vs. Pelicans
July 10, 4 p.m. - Bulls vs. Hornets

For those hoping to see a battle of the second and third point guards taken in Thursday's draft, they'll have to wait until the regular season. The Cavaliers selected Vanderbilt's Darius Garland with the fifth pick, but he won't play in Summer League as he recovers from meniscus surgery he underwent in November.

The Bulls will square off against two other first-round picks that Cleveland selected in Belmont's Dylan Windler and USC's Kevin Porter Jr.

The big story against the Pelicans will be Williamson vs. White, but the Pelicans were busy on draft night in selecting Texas center Jaxson Hayes - who the Bulls were reportedly interested in - and Virginia Tech's Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

There's a hometown twist when the Bulls square off against the Lakers. Los Angeles selected Simeon Academy product Talen Horton-Tucker in the second round and also signed fellow Simeon product and Gonzaga standout Zach Norvell as an undrafted free agent.

The Hornets drafted Kentucky forward P.J. Washington with the 12th pick and added Nevada's Cody Martin and San Diego State's Jalen McDaniels in Round 2.

The top eight teams from the round robin will advance to the knockout round. The Bulls' Summer League roster will be finalized in the coming days, but it will obviously include White and second-round pick Daniel Gafford.