So, it wasn't just a circus trip, nor even being on the road that the catalyst for these Bulls blowouts. After being completely annihilated at home to the Raptors on Saturday night, it looks like it can happen against any team, and it's at the point where I'm having trouble remembering how the Bulls won the 7 they did.
But it's not a panic time yet. I don't think a coaching change is imminent, the Org. knows they're undermanned right now and are paying for the shoddy 'depth' they assembled in the offseason, and VDN really has few options. While they likely know by now he's not some coaching savant to be further groomed, though as long as VDN is fired before free agency begins it will have the same effect on the team's courting as if he's fired now. I still say there's a potential nightmare (yes, things can get worse) scenario if VDN is fired and the assistants are as bad (and uninterested with player development) as Jim friggin' Boylan was. Bernie Bickerstaff does have by far the most experience, though I still think the last thing he wants is the pressure of the big chair again, and he'd likely show it in his performance. I'd still say it's too much risking that result if they fire him now, but it does become less of an issue if more losses mount.
And I actually don't think they've quit on VDN as much as they're not as good as we hoped when fully healthy (Salmons and Miller being worse than expected, Rose not taking a leap forward), and terrible when injuries add up. Sure, there's the now-famous shoe defense, but I actually thought Luol was (alright, a bit lazily) using the opportunity to switch back defensive assignments after the Raps got an offensive rebound, though Pargo waved him off. It looked worse than it was. The issue isn't not playing hard when down, it's getting so far down in the first place. And I think it's mostly because they're untalented and poorly coached, though no more poorly than last year to where they've 'given up'.
Remember, it was actually all the way into late January last season when the Chairman came down from on high and sent notice to the team (and coaching staff in particular), so it's not like VDN hasn't started a season slowly before. The schedule will get easier like it always does, and the team will get more healthy. Or they will do another trade like last season, where they give up future assets for immediate help and further payroll flexibility. Last year it was John Salmons' arrival spelling the end for Gordon's future, and this year Tyrus could be the one out for any serviceable veteran to get the point differential somewhere under 25 each night.
The Bulls still could be seen as a 'team on the rise' if Noah keeps playing well (and being the true captain of the team) and Rose shows any improvement (have we seen it yet? at all?), and they sneak into the playoffs. I'm not sure LeBron James or Chris Bosh would see that end result and DQ the Bulls as a destination because their current teams blew out the Bulls in December. Though it won't be a mark in the 'pro' column of their free-agent checklist...and I can't help but think one of the biggest items in the 'con' list would be the current head coach.
And if VDN is given a reprieve just by being one of the top-8 in the East (and it may be true his 3rd year is fully guaranteed?), maybe making the playoffs wouldn't be worth it if his mere presence indicates the Bulls are not serious about competing for championships?