I woke up hoping that some new details would have come to light in this fantastic Paxson-VDN physical confrontation story, but there isn't much. KC Johnson adds some interesting notes about the aftermath, with VDN trying to get some written statements about the incident to cover himself, and now with the Bulls lawyering up for an in-house investigation.
The degree of the physical confrontation (stepping up, grab the tie, poke in the chest, shoving...) seems to be of some debate, but it really doesn't matter. While this is a sports business and the participants are, after all, ex-jocks, they're still now executive figures (Paxson moreso, obviously) in the organization. It's a significant story that would have more cost in terms of job security if VDN wasn't already going to be fired after this year and Paxson already quit last year.
Or did we all forget that? It seems Paxson did, as I thought the whole point behind that quitting-your-way-to-a-promotion move was precisely so Pax could stay with the Org. but have a buffer between his unbridled passion (eyeroll) and the team and media. It should've been puppet GM Gar Forman who went down there and talked to Vinny about Joakim Noah's minutes, as he would've never been so shove-y. Maybe this is the final indication for Paxson that even with this new lofted position of Vice President he can't help himself , and he'll resign. And maybe Reinsdorf accepts it this time.
(way more after the jump...)
Some kind of management overhaul is overdue. Vinny Del Negro is not a good coach, and was a bad hire. And while initially seeming affable, he doesn't even seem that likable when he turns up the 'I'm the coach and you're not' act when his decisions are questioned. But what the Org. has managed to do throughout this season is make him look to be a sympathetic figure. From the days in December when they reportedly wanted to fire him but couldn't find a replacement up and through this latest incident, the Bulls have done everything they could to separate themselves from the guy that took 6 weeks, dozens of interviews, and 2 almost-hires to make their coach.
And that signaled to Vinny that he was likely gone, so it's not far-fetched for him to look to his own resume instead of the Bulls best long-term interests when it came to playing Joakim Noah on his way back from injury. The stakes were raised with Noah, as last time he played significant minutes he was out the next 10 days. But that said, going 2+ minutes over an arbitrary limit seems a bit minor to get Paxson in his office and calling him 'selfish', and then having it escalate.
What likely caused this story to break now (and it wasn't because KC Johnson decided to value his own job over that of Bulls employees...but that's a separate post) is the aftermath of the New Jersey game. This story puts that one in a whole different context. Again it was a situation about Joakim Noah's minutes, and this time Vinny did what he was told (or shoved), only to have GM Gar Forman (that is his title, not Paxson's...I know this is hard to keep straight myself) post-game say the Org. did not give him a minutes limit on Noah. With the subsequent 'miscommunication' (VDN-LindseyHunter-Gar-Pax) spin not helping much to keep Bulls fans pitchforks from Vinny after potentially costing the Bulls that game, I can only imagine how bad VDN wanted this story from a few weeks ago to come out, and I'm guessing someone on his side made it happen.
Again, not the biggest deal for the current coaching situation, as Vinny was probably gone after the season anyway. But it does become a big deal concerning Paxson's future, and specifically his role in getting a new coach and big-name free agent to come to Chicago. We already know the Bulls don't like to pay their coaches much, you can't hire an agent to negotiate with Reinsdorf, and now we hear this kind of micromanaging from a complete hothead, and a messy power structure filled with the underqualified Org. soldiers.
When Scott Skiles was hired (moreso after he received his extension) he was above that status as yelled-at underling, and when he was not only fired but negotiated a way to keep most of what he was owed but also keep the money from his next job, it entrenched Reinsdorf against another big-money and power coach. So they get their patsy in VDN, a guy who they hoped would be some young coaching mind, but even if he wasn't , would at least be thankful for the opportunity he was gifted (this is the Bulls way of buying loyalty) and stay in line.
Problem for them is that Vinny decided enough was enough and fought back, and he's successfully turned the attention away from his own failures and on to that of those that hired him. A situation that puts everyone in a bad light, and emphasizes the need for the Bulls to hire a qualified professional autonomous personnel executive to run this team.
But I fear instead it'll just mean a new coach who will seem like a bigger name but be another Org. loyalty hire (Collins. Maybe even Chris Collins at this point). And they'll have to get a free agent who they'll overpaying to come here, not one who could have the maximum contract anywhere but actually chooses the Bulls Org. as the place he'd want to work.