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The Week in Cheap – Or – The Smokescreen-esque Head Coaching Search of the Chicago Bulls

And who have the Bulls been interviewing for a head coaching candidate? Lots of discount applicants, that is to say, people who are currently assistant coaches or not even an assistant. People like Chuck Person (assistant coach, Sacremento), Tyrone Corbin (local ties as a DePaul Alum, assistant with the Jazz), Jeff Hornacek (originally from the ‘burbs, special assistant with the Jazz, player development mostly, it sounds like), Michael Curry (assistant coach, Pistons – or he’ll try when the play-offs are over ) and Tom Thibodeaux (assistant, Celtics – ditto as with Curry).

Paxson is also supposed to have talked with Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis, both assistants with the Lakers. Do you honestly think Reinsdorf would want a coach who’d worked with Phil Jackson? Lots of bad blood there.

Candidates with head coaching experience that have come up? Dwayne Casey, went 43-59 (.422) in Minnesota, but he’s rumored to be Rick Carlisle’s right hand in Dallas, so maybe not. John Lucas actually did pretty well in San Antonio. Well, in the regular season, with a .639 season and a .671 season, but was miserable in Philly and Cleveland for an over-all record of 173-258 (.401). And you know if Lucas, with his background in helping players through drug rehab, shows up in town before Noah’s arrest blows over, there’s going to be a media circus. Jeff Bzdelik, who had one good year in Denver before exiting with an overall record of 73-119. And maybe you also have current Pistons assistant coach, Terry Porter, who had a .500 season with the Bucks and then got fired after an injury-plagued 30-52 campaign.

How about candidates with ZERO coaching experience? Paxon’s talked to Mark Jackson, the former point guard who was supposed to have gotten the Knicks head coaching gig, and may well have, had the Bulls not botched the D’Antoni hire. Then there’s the interest expressed in Eric Snow. Yes, the same Eric Snow that’s still under contract with the Caveliers next season. Don’t laugh (well, not for over 5 minutes). There’s a precedent for this. Johnny “Red” Kerr cut his playing career short to be the first coach of the Bulls.

Oh, yes. Paxson is going to get around to talking to Avery Johnson any day now.

The funniest candidates have to be Hornacek (rumored to be up for a possible “normal” assistant coach position in Phoenix – and I say this as someone who likes Hornacek) and Snow (if his knees are shot, rumors are he might make his first assistant coaching stop with Larry Brown in Charlotte).

Of all these candidates, who has a winning record? Johnson only, though you could certainly draw parallels to John Lucas in San Antonio: strong regular season, fizzle in play-offs. Except Lucas crashed and burned in his next two outings and Johnson is much, much better regarded.

Of all these candidates, who would command more than an entry-level salary? Johnson. Terry Porter might get a hair more than the rest, when you figure how injured the Bucks were for his second season. 

The rest of the candidates either haven’t been a head coach or have a lousy record and haven’t been an NBA head coach lately.

You do have three excellent former point guards: Johnson, Jackson and Porter among that group. I’d say Snow, but I can’t consider him a legitimate candidate. If Derrick Rose is indeed the number one draft pick, there are candidates on the list that could teach him.

Still, that’s an awful lot of people to be interviewing. An awful lot of names to be flashing to the media. Is this all a smokescreen for the sake of appearing to be working hard at finding the right candidate, like the guy who always leaves the office with two briefcases to make it look like he’s taking work home? It makes you wonder.

With Reinsdorf (and make no mistake about it, Reinsdorf is more involved in money decisions than he’d have you believe) spouting off about defense, seemingly out of nowhere, it’s pretty obvious no decision will be made until Boston either wins the title or gets knocked out, and the Bulls Brain Trust can sit down with the so-called defensive guru, Tom Thibodeaux.

 This talk of defense does raise a question, though.  When did Bulls defense become more important to the average fan, than watching Jordan drop 40 points on the visiting team?  If Reinsdorf wants to invoke the championship years… oh, wait… Jordan was a player and it’s the organization that wins the championship.  I keep forgetting about that particular bit of Jerry’s wisdom.

Why is Paxson only talking to one coach with a winning record? You’d have to ask Jerry that question. He’s the one signing the check. He’s the one who told D’Antoni he didn’t deal with agents, too. Is this really a mandate to turn over every rock and sign a contract for under $4 million?

Until I see evidence that the third largest market team can write a coaching check that’s top 10 in the league, I have to call a round-up of the head coaching cattle call, “The Week in Cheap.”

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  1. I guess my two questions would be…

    1) Which coach with a winning record would you like the Bulls to pursue, and…

    2) What were Phil Jackson’s qualifications when he was hired by Reinsdorf and Krauss?

  2. 1) I’d like them to talk to more than one. Fratello has been to the play-offs with 3 different teams and isn’t married to a particular style of offense. Paul Silas would be interesting, especially for the young bigs. If Rudy T is healthy and wants to return to the bench, he’d be a good choice. I don’t think Jeff Van Gundy would be a good fit for the roster, and he seems not to want to come back right away, but you should at least talk to somebody with his credentials instead of… Eric Snow?

    2) Jackson was sitting on the bench and Reinsdorf did the path of least resistance. HOWEVER, Jackson had been a CBA head coach, won a title there and was coach of the year, so there were still more credentials for head coaching than a lot of these candidates. And they got a little lucky. And boy did they howl when they had to pay Phil, after he’d won for them.

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