There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said the past couple of weeks. I thought it was time, and I think a lot of Bulls fans felt the same way, regardless of their opinion of Skiles as a coach in general. Kelly Dwyer has an (expected) well-done synopsis of Skiles’ career in Chicago.
There’s been plenty of speculation as to why Pax swung the axe, and why now. I’m guessing it’s a simple reason: every Paxson addition the past 2 offseasons has been put into question: Wallace, Thomas, Khryapa, Sefolosha, Noah. So either he’s watching all of those guys getting buried and thinking he’s made a bunch of mistakes, or he’s thinking that they’re not being utilized properly.
In the aftermath, there have been plenty of pundits saying that the Bulls are a team that has to try hard to win, and they’ve stopped trying hard. I think Paxson made the aforementioned additions so that they wouldn’t have to try so hard, and this culture of willing disadvantage had gone on long enough.
Here’s a roundup of some of the speculation regarding the move (and thanks to the commenters who brought most of these to my attention):
- Chris Duhon (mp3 link) said that it’d be hard to distinguish assistant Jim Boylan (now, reportedly the next interim coach) from Skiles.(Duh’s gotta feel pretty bad, his biggest backer gone in a contract year)
- Ric Bucher reported on ESPNNews (video) that Reinsdorf initiated the change.
- Stephen Bardo was on WSCR (mp3 link) and speculated that Ben Wallaces ‘listless’ play could be due to dissatisfaction with Skiles.
Sam Smith reports that Ben Wallace told Pax that Skiles quit on the team, so they quit on him.
- Marc Stein says that not only was Wallace and Thomas at odds with Skiles, but there were also rumblings from Sefolosha and Nocioni.
We’ll likely see Pete Myers as the ‘interim-interim’ on Wednesday in San Antonio, and Boylan, Myers, or another assistant take over for the rest of the year. Paxson has indicated that playoffs is still the goal, but I’d have to think another major goal is getting Pax’s additions back on the court. If he’s right, they’ll help lead the team to the playoffs while arming them with more than they had (or were willing to use) than last year.
And even if the team doesn’t turn it around, Pax will get a solid two months of evaluation before the trading deadline. With the coaching variable hopefully stabilized, it’s the players’ turn to feel the heat.