Strangely enough, there hasn't been any reports of the Bulls contacting any coaching candidates yet. Maybe Gar Forman wasn't lying (and is indeed incompetent, which is worse) when saying they didn't have any people immediately in mind?
What we have heard instead is some relatively unrealistic candidates making waves themselves. Phil Jackson saying no (though his team is playing so I wouldn't say that is a reason to give up, use the plenty of other reasons), John Calipari working his back channels to say he is interested (or just leveraging Kentucky) , and most interestingly Jeff Van Gundy's suspiciously ubiquitous presence in the Chicago media. Not that Van Gundy has indicated interest (and again, the Bulls have seemingly no interest in anyone yet) but the fact that he's merely around talking about the job at all is interesting. And after hearing his comments on the VDN-Paxson feud, yet also praising the Org. and especially the players, and knowing he is one of the most qualified coaches out there, he's my early favorite candidate for the job. It's true that his slowed down and seemingly controlling style wouldn't mesh well with this roster, but he's only had plodding centers to work with, and is it that bad to want to control (as in, coach) Derrick Rose?
Evaluating coaching candidates is pretty difficult. There's no shortage of potential hires, check out the lists by Doug at ChicagoNow and Sam Smith, though Sam includes some names I think he put in there merely as shout-outs to old NBA friends. I can label different tiers of candidates, though I haven't dug deeper to get a better impression amongst those tiers.
The top level being coaches who've been successful in multiple places, and/or can bring some kind of 'cachet' to either get the fans (or more importantly, prospective FAs) excited. Like the moon-shot possibilities in Jackson or Calipari, Van Gundy, Doc Rivers (though I can't see that happening without having to give the Celtics compensation), Larry Brown, and Byron Scott. Not that all don't have flaws, as any coach who's been in the game that long will expose some weaknesses, but they'd be hires that I'd say not only would help the on-floor coaching but raise the profile of the whole franchise.
Then there's the guys who've been fired once but deserve a second chance. No, not Vinny. Lawrence Frank, Dwayne Casey and Kevin McHale are my favorites of that group. Avery Johnson and Sam Mitchell (especially if there's any Bosh love left) are less exciting but I can see it.
I'd hire any of the above if it instead meant going to the tried and true retreads, which to me mean multiple stops without a high level of success (or at least declining returns of success). A group led by Doug Collins, but also including Maurice Cheeks, Mike Fratello, Eric Musselman, and plenty of other names.
After the VDN experience, I do not advocate going after someone without NBA head coaching experience. Granted, Vinny was a special case as he had zero coaching experience anywhere, but I just don't think they can afford to take that chance again. And they better not even interview Mark Jackson, as there are hours of tape that indicate that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Like I said, a lot of names. And the way the Bulls have indicated (and based on how they've operated before) it could be a long time. My initial power ranking is as follows (with some consideration given to realism):
- Van Gundy
I think I'll stop there because after Johnson I'd put Sam Mitchell, and I can't say I'd be all that pleased with that one, and it gets less exciting from there.