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Bulls’ front office dispute gets disputed, situation gets uglier

UPDATE 4/15 11:28 AM: During interviews last night, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro denied the reports that he was the aggressor, saying “That’s 100 percent false.” Apparently both sides have now hired lawyers, as has the team.

This is not going to end well. But at least it didn’t come as a distraction at the worst possible time of the season... oh wait, it did.

4/14 8:10 pm: Dysfunctional.

There really appears to be no other word for the relationship between Bulls vice president John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro. Following a report yesterday on Yahoo saying Paxson threatened and physically went after Del Negro, backers of Paxson told ESPNChicago the original report had it backwards and Del Negro was the aggressor.

However, a source close to the situation disputed who initiated that argument, and said that it wasn’t the first altercation Del Negro has had with management. The source said that Del Negro and Bulls general manager Gar Forman had an altercation in Forman’s office that was similar, but did not give details.

“So this was not the first time [Del Negro] exhibited this behavior,” the source said.

Bulls GM Gus Forman comes off as the powerless man in the middle, issuing the “why can’t we all just get along?” statement today.

“The Chicago Bulls are focusing all of our energies into the remainder of this season and, as such, were disappointed at the recent stories that may have distracted from that...

“The event occurred in coach Del Negro’s office, not in the locker room and not in front of the players, as some wrongly have reported. This disagreement, while not communicated well by either party in the heat of the moment and in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, was a result of conflicting views, but all based on the fine balance required to ensure both the immediate and long-term success of the team and the health of its players.

Just to add to the fun, David Stern said today the NBA is looking into this.

From the outside, it’s almost impossible to discern the truth, and almost never is one person completely at fault. This is fast becoming a situation where the owner needs to step in and put his foot down, make a decision and get rid of one or both of them.

Time for somebody in the Bulls organization to be an adult.