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Will Vinny survive the early schedule?

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I somewhat downplayed the importance of Tuesday's release of the Bulls schedule. All NBA schedules are basically the same. As Bulls Confidential noted, the only variables are whether they play non-Central Eastern Conference teams 3 or 4 times, and while they play the Celtics 4 times they only get the Magic 3 times.

There's the analyzing of how many back-to-backs, or 4 games in 5 nights, road trips, etc. But if they were better, such schedule quirks wouldn't matter. They won't be good enough to crack the elite in the conference, and won't be bad enough for a complete disaster. They just need to be good enough to have observers (and free agents) think they're on the way up, best done by making the playoffs.

But while it's true the schedule always evens out at the end, the early tough stretch (highlighted, of course, by the circus trip) may have a serious effect on the Bulls coach, Vinny Del Negro. It's not hard to envision a scenario where the Bulls stumble out of the gate in terms of record (whether they play well or not), and pressure will be on Gar Paxdorf to do something with a coach who is probably the most fireable in the entire league.

VDN won't be around when the Bulls are good again, unless he had some serious coaching improvement over the summer. It's just the way the job is, and Vinny hasn't shown to be nearly good enough to overcome that reality. Plus he has the lowest coaching salary in the NBA. So it's not a question of if, but when. 

But would it really be best to fire him early in the season next year for the purpose of a 'jolt'? A new coach, combined with the relatively easier second half schedule, and it could look like a smart move.

But what Vinny at least brings is a player-friendly style that seems to have everyone behind him. And since the Bulls likely won't keep Tyrus Thomas beyond this season no matter how he plays (still hoping for a mutually benefitial break-out season, but it's tough...), there aren't even any odd rotation decisions that'll stagnate young players: Rose and Noah will play, and James Johnson has plenty of rookie contract years left. 

So while I often disparage Vinny's ability and think he's completely replaceable...he'd have to be replaced with a real NBA coach. And as we know of the Bulls, their 'process'  to find a real coach isn't something that can be done midseason. (And apparently not even in an offseason, but I digress...)

I doubt the in-house replacements would be any better. If Pete Myers was the guy, from what I've seen of those brief trials I think he'd almost certainly be worse. Bernie Bickerstaff has head coaching experience, but he likely is at the point in his career where he doesn't want to take a thankless interim job.

And so a bigger fear than a slow start and a VDN firing is what happens if the team doesn't regroup and instead goes further into a tailspin. Like the time of, and yes I'll dare say the words: the Jim Boylan era.

That could ruin the goal of this season, which is to make the playoffs. I don't think a slow start would jeopardize that goal, and it'd be a risky move for the Bulls to sacrifice Vinny to keep up the false pretense that they're trying to do anything more than stay average until the next round of free agency.