[From the fanposts. I was hoping a nice trade rumor would bail me out this morning, since I don't feel like discussing yet another close and late loss. I suppose it's improvement of the blowout losses, but that's what happens when you get your captains back. So enjoy this post instead, if you haven't seen it already -ed.]
Often on Bulls sites, I see blame for various things (most recently D'Antoni's botched hiring) assigned to Reinsdorf or Paxson. After looking back at events, I first want to give my impression of the history and then draw some lessons from it.
First, there is some clear evidence from Reinsdorf’s interviews during the coaching search. My impression of this summer is that it went down something like this.
* Reinsdorf said Pax recommended the hire D’Antoni. God only knows what happened between Reinsdorf and D’Antoni, but it seems clear that things went south after Pax had more or less signed off. So I would say that’s a clear case where, if Pax had the full authority to do the job, he’d probably have gotten D’Antoni.
So while I can’t definitively say, I consider it an instance of Reinsdorf failing where Pax on his own would have succeeded. On the other hand, if getting what you want from a fickle owner is considered part of Paxson’s job, he failed miserably.
* The fact that Collins went to Reinsdorf directly, and Reinsdorf came out later and said something to the effect of ‘Pax is struggling to find a coach so I wanted to help’ (I can dig up the exact quote if ya want it) seemed to me to be a pretty obvious no confidence vote in Pax by Reinsdorf. Which is understandable given that, from Reinsdorf’s perspective, Pax had just given his hearty recommendation that he hire D’Antoni, and that blew up in his face. And that he had nothing afterwards.
* Likewise, if I think it’s pretty understandable that Pax wouldn’t, regardless of what he might have thought under other circumstances, want Collins installed as coach under those circumstances.
* So you get to a situation now Pax probably doesn’t have Reinsdorf’s full confidence any more, but for whatever reason (who knew Reinsdorf was such a sentimental teddy bear?) he just didn’t want to axe him. Especially when, after seeing the mess, Collins probably didn’t want to step into it any more.
* So then what? You start over. If you’re Reinsdorft, you step back and let Pax go back to the drawing board since perhaps you mucked up his choice, even if you think it sucked. So Pax starts over coaching search, eventually settling on VDN after multiple interviews with guys who now look like better candidates. I don’t see much evidence that Pax was railroaded into selecting the Hair, so that’s pretty much on him.
So at best, I can imagine that Reinsdorf’s interference might have cost D’Antoni. However, that doesn’t excuse Paxson from ultimately hiring Vinnie, who’s pretty disastrous.
So what's the lesson here? Well, why did D'Antoni go to New York? Forget everything else... if you go to a job interview and see that your boss and his boss don't quite seem to be on the same page (possible understatement), are you going to go there, or are you going to go to the place where everyone seems on-board and has a plan.
New York offered that. Donnie Walsh said here's the plan. I'm going to ruthlessly cut salary, and you're going to have to work with whatever happens to fit in that plan. Within the scope of that plan, you're the man and I'll do whatever you want.
In short, the lesson is to have a plan get everyone on board with it.
Pax spoke frequently during the coaching search of wanting to find someone who would "set the tone". It always sounded to me that he was looking for someone to do his job for him. Vinnie, ever eager to say he was up to the challenge, was glad to be handed the mess. Whereas more seasoned guys looked at it and saw that getting on board a ship with no one at the helm was not a good idea, he was eager to put on the captain's hat.
Not surprisingly he failed. I think with this roster, pretty much any coach would. It's just that Vinnie was desperate enough to try. Unlike Scott Skiles, a couple years ago, who was also desperate, Vinnie wasn't backed up with strong direction from the top. Also, unlike Scott Skiles, Vinnie appears to be a shitty coach.
But for all the talk of firing Vinnie, which needs to be done, it's going to be pointless unless this team picks a direction. I see people talking about Avery Johnson and while he didn't sound great the first time around, having a guy who really is a leader, and has a track record of developing a hell of a young point guard sounds pretty good at this point.
But I seriously doubt he comes here if he sees a team that has no direction. So Pax, Reinsdorf, decide. Jerry, if you want to second guess Pax, fire him. Hire Doug Collins to be the GM. Or let Pax make his decisions and live with them. Whomever is running the show, Balance this roster. Get some defense and a vet up front to go with the kids. Unclog the backcourt. Get the cap in order, one way or another. Make a decision about 2010 and execute it. Even if you can't do it all at once, decide what you're gonna freaking do. As you said, Pax, someone needs to set the tone. Unfortunately, you didn't understand it was you and your boss.