Tag Archives: bernie bickerstaff

Del Negro out as Bulls coach and here is why

It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was close. They’d gone through one date after another and nothing really was mutual. Until one day, John Paxson ran into Vinny Del Negro at the Chicago draft camp and they began talking hoops. And things seemed to click between the two former court rivals. This seemed different.
So Paxson and Gar Forman brought Vinny home, or, more precisely, to the home of their professional dad, Jerry Reinsdorf. And Jerry gave his blessing.
But once they started living together, it just wasn’t the same. It happens. It happens all the time in life, and it happens in basketball.
So Tuesday, the Bulls and coach Del Negro are expected to announce their official divorce.
The Bulls get the kids, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Vinny gets the settlement, about $2 million from his three-year contract to get on with his basketball life.
There’s no great explanation.
Each side has its own story.
Irreconcilable differences, as the explanation generally goes
It’s like when the movie stars announce a divorce and you are shocked that he/she could walk away from someone who looks like that.
But, hey, you didn’t have to live with them.
And that’s pretty much how I see the conclusion of the relationship between the Bulls and Del Negro. The Bulls sent out a notice late Monday night that general manager Forman Tuesday morning will address “the organization’s head coaching change.”
They did give it one last gasp at some counseling over the weekend with Del Negro meeting with Bulls chairman Reinsdorf Sunday and Forman Monday. It was too late. Too much had occurred already.
No, it wasn’t the altercation in March between Paxson and Del Negro, once close, and who actually was the one who plucked Del Negro out of candidate obscurity to give him a chance at the job. Del Negro certainly wasn’t on any list Reinsdorf had prepared.
There really was no one overplayed incident.
Vinny wasn’t who they thought he was, which is something Chicago teams run into with Phoenix guys. For his part, Vinny was on the NBA hamster wheel, running as fast as he could to catch up with the NBA game going at light speed, doing all he could and feeling he’d make big progress.
It was Vinny’s first ever coaching job, and it was a risk for the Bulls.
It was well chronicled they didn’t want a deal with Doug Collins. But I’m convinced has Mike D’Antoni waited a few days instead of running to the Knicks within hours of his first meeting with the Bulls he would have been hired. D’Antoni has since told friends he regretted his decision.
The Bulls will begin a search with the usual suspects for now, though nothing is imminent as there only has been the kind of vague discussion that goes on in all organizations.
Sure, Del Negro played and was a team executive and personnel guru. But like those rookies always say, the thing that surprises you is how fast the game is compared to watching it. It’s the same with coaching. It goes by a lot faster than you think, and millions of eyes are ready to second guess: Why didn’t you foul? You had one to give. Foul to play the free throw game down the stretch or let them shoot the three? When do you sub and who? When do you take them out and how long do you leave them in? Call a timeout? How many timeouts to keep for the end? What’s your offense? What’s your defense? Trap? Zone? Switch?
OK, bring in some veteran coaches to help. So Del Negro got Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff. Too bad they had different philosophies on the game, Del in one ear and Bernie in the other. Foul, don’t foul? Time out, no timeout. Shoot the three, drive.
The Bulls were hoping—fantasizing, really, though they knew that was unrealistic–they might strike gold, a new millennium version of the next Phil Jackson, who’d replaced the popular Doug Collins. But Vinny wasn’t ready.
So there were disputes. Why was Rose left out of games at crucial times? Why wasn’t Noah getting more time to develop? What’s with those big minutes? What’s with the tight rotation? Where’s the defense?
Del Negro said it was coming, and it was. The defense was improving, the rebounding was getting better. The young guys, Rose and Noah, were better. Taj Gibson, the rookie, had come on fast. The team played hard and finished strong for the second consecutive season.
So what’s the problem?
Yet, Rose’s defense had gone nowhere. The offense remained simplistic and predictable, the pick and rolls constantly using a poor shooter. There was too much standing around. Sure, Gibson had contributed, but where was James Johnson? How come guys played 20 minutes then two?
And then there was the minutes limitation for Noah.  Was it even necessary? Del Negro was endangering the future. Or was Noah always ready to play and showed it in the playoffs?
But life, as we all know, is not always fair.
It wasn’t about only those things.
The sides had dug in.
The Bulls didn’t feel the man they hired was the man who came to work. Del Negro believed despite the changes and priorities toward the future, the present had developed as well as could be expected.
The Bulls gave Vinny a chance when no one else would or did. His own Suns passed on him and hired Terry Porter.
The average life of a coach, especially in the Eastern Conference, is about two years. Of the 15 teams in the East, only five have coaches hired in seasons before the Bulls hired Del Negro.
This has happened before with the Bulls as well. Collins was fired after making it to the conference finals. Stan Albeck took the team to the playoffs the year Michael Jordan missed 64 games with a broken foot, and Albeck was then fired.
But it also happens all over basketball.
Sam Mitchell, Hubie Brown, Avery Johnson, Byron Scott and Rick Carlisle were fired or left within two seasons of being named coach of the year. Carlisle was fired in Detroit after two 50-win seasons and second round playoff appearances. For Hubie Brown, ostensibly for health reasons, it was 12 games into the season after he won the award. Larry Brown was fired in Detroit after taking the team to the Finals for the second straight season. Del Harris was fired by the Lakers 12 games into the season after he won 61 games. Mike Fratello was fired by the Cavs after six straight winning seasons and never a losing season.
Del Negro, by the way, was the fifth coach fired this season. The coaches of Atlanta, Toronto, Miami and Golden State are hardly secure.
These jobs are as much about results as they are communication and relationships.
Plus, their priorities are at variance.
The coach’s job is to win today’s game and win as many games as he can. The GM’s job is to develop a team for the long term and, if necessary, sacrifice the present. So there was that, Del Negro playing to win every game to assure his return or status, thus limiting one rookie and the bench, relying on the starters for big minutes, perhaps playing Noah more than recommended. And there was the organization hoping to see more of Johnson, preferring players like Luol Deng coming off serious injury not playing the second most minutes in his career, hoping to see defensive advancement from Rose and some more care for Noah.
Each had a point. But the relationship began to deteriorate.
From the outside, it appeared Vinny had done what he could given trades and Ben Gordon leaving in free agency. From the inside, there seemed perhaps a different agenda.
Vinny no longer was the right guy for this time.
It was no one’s fault. It happens. It happens all the time in pro sports.
Vinny gets his contract fulfilled, which was all he was promised. After all, it wasn’t like when he was hired anyone said this was coach for life, that this was the next Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach. The Bulls get the benefit of two years development, which has enhanced the status of Rose and Noah and with a good summer of work, the Bulls could be in an excellent position to move forward and become a true contender. Vinny gets the asterisk taken off his name. He’s a coach with experience now, which moves him to the head of the line and opens up the future if he wants to coach again.
Win/win? Perhaps not, but it is the way of life in the NBA. The game moves on. So will Vinny and the Bulls.

Bulls don’t flop this time and beat Rockets 98-88

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro storming onto the court and ejected for the first time in his coaching career. Derrick Rose furious at an offensive foul call and slicing the air with disgust. Taj Gibson battling three Rockets while getting two offensive rebounds and dunking the second, getting fouled and letting out a scream of accomplishment. Kirk Hinrich with the big, clinching three down the stretch worthy of a Neil Funk “ka, ka, ka, ka boom!”
The Bulls are back? Well, at least breathing again and in a race of for the playoffs with their second straight win and exuberant defensive effort, 98-88 over the Houston Rockets.
“Every game has to be like our last game and we have to steal a game along the line,” said Del Negro, who was chased by referee Bob Delaney, a former undercover state trooper, late in the third quarter. “We’ve got a difficult task ahead of us. We know it, but guys are working and getting a little healthier, which is positive. There are no easy games for us. We cannot afford a lapse. Hopefully, we’ll stay focused.
“There’s enough basketball to be played,” said Del Negro. “We play Charlotte (twice), Milwaukee, at Toronto. We have to go one at a time. Miami (on TNT) Thursday is a big game. You’ve got to focus on what you can control and get out and perform, play defense like we did tonight and usually good things happen.”
So the Bulls moved to 33-37, though still two and a half games behind eighth place Toronto. But they finally are showing life after that hideous 10-game losing streak. They outrebounded an opponent, and a good one with the Rockets now 36-33, for the first time in eight games. They held Houston to 33.7 percent shooting, low for an opponent in ending a five-game home losing streak.
Rose was brilliant again with 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds playing 47 minutes. Hinrich added 17 points in making four of four threes. Flip Murray came off the bench with 18 points and was the only one who could make big free throws down the stretch while Taj Gibson channeled old pal Norm Van Lier and played his heart out every minute he was on the court for 10 points and 12 rebounds in using all his fouls.
Luol Deng remained out, but said he plans to be back the last week or 10 days and Joakim Noah said he’s feeling better than he has for months. He played 12 minutes and had four points and six rebounds, but a particularly impressive stretch in the second quarter when he energized the team with his hustle and defense.
“I’m feeling good,” said Noah. “We’ve won two games in a row. I’m just happy our team is definitely on a high right now. We’ve got to keep getting better and understanding what’s at stake.”
The Bulls are being extra cautious with Noah given the recurrence of his plantar fasciitis in late February. He was limited to 12 minutes Monday and is scheduled for about 15 minutes against Miami Thursday, and if he continues to improve the team said his minutes will increase. The hope is it isn’t too late by the time he’s ready to give all he’s got.
Though no one is giving up—and the Bulls are competing the best they have in a month—the task remains difficult with Toronto with the tiebreaker and starting to win some games.
“Right now we’re just focused on us. We can’t control anybody else,” said Hinrich. “We play a few of the teams ahead of us in the standings. I think we should look at every night as an opportunity to possibly get a game. But no one is backing up. The other teams kind of hold the cards now. You’d definitely like to be in a fight for positioning than a fight to get in. Pretty much in the East all the games are important. I can’t say I like being in this position. It is what it is and we have to try to take care of business.”
The Bulls did do what they had to, as the cliché goes, in an embarrassment of a game for the NBA.
Anyone who regularly reads me knows I believe the officiating in the NBA is the best in the world and above reproach. But the epidemic Monday of flopping to draw fouls—and the officials falling for it—made me only think of what Arnold Schwarzenegger would call the culprits, girlie men.
It’s not basketball to fall down and pretend to be run into. Heck, Luis Scola, whom I admire as a clever player who had 22 points and 10 rebounds without ever jumping once, was falling down about every time he tried a jump shot. Houston guards would shoot and fall down without anyone near them.
I kept calling security and reporting snipers in the balcony. There must have been. No self respecting pro would do that himself, though I could swear I heard the tune for “ring around the rosey” being sung in the Rockets’ locker room before the game.
Rockets’ players were constantly jumping across the lane and diving like there was small arms fire. I know drawing a charge is a part of defense, though I prefer to believe a real charge is when you stay in front of your man and are run over.
But leaping in front of someone has become accepted good defense. The Bulls are not big on it, which perhaps they should work on. Though I am proud of the way guys like Noah and Gibson try to block shots and keep their feet moving for position rather than diving for cover like Scola, whom you’d swear at times was imitating a sea bass in a fishing boat.
The Bulls pushed the ball well with 28 fast break points to 15 for Houston and got off to a 31-29 first quarter lead. The Rockets went at James Johnson early with success, though Johnson had a nice sequence midway through the second but drew his third foul and was taken out.
I hate when coaches do that, especially with someone like Johnson who isn’t about to finish the game, anyway. So what if he fouls out in the third quarter? Ride him when he’s doing something. He only played 13 minutes, anyway. Houston took a 53-48 halftime lead. But the Bulls, with Rose and Hinrich harassing Houston’s guards well, threw pretty much the basketball version of a shutout in the third quarter leading up to Del Negro’s ejection.
The Bulls had just completed a terrific all around sequence with the Rockets three of 22 in the third quarter and the Bulls scoring on seven straight possessions with Rose, Hinrich and Murray all converting threes and Rose a beautiful twisting reverse layup for a 72-59 lead.
The Rockets had been flopping about all game like wounded cranes and drawing the charges, so Rose tried and it was a pretty good one getting in front of an out of control Kyle Lowry.
Rose was called for the block foul.
“I rarely take one so they got to give me one,” Rose said. “I was mad at that one.”
So then as events would have it on the very next possession, Gibson went in from the left baseline and was called for a charge on Jared Jeffries even through Jeffries was standing inside the circle to determine whether it even can be a charge.
That’s when Vinny lost it, charging out onto the court and gesticulating enthusiastically as Delaney began looking for his handcuffs. Del Negro was retrained by assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, who would take over the rest of the game.
“I just wanted to get their attention,” said Del Negro with a smile afterward. “So I wanted to make sure I was far enough onto the court. There were too many (flops) to make any sense of it. I have to do a better job staying in the game, but sometimes you have to get your team going and let them know the importance of this stuff. I thought I got tossed pretty quick. I felt we needed to get a littler bit of a fair shake.”
You hate to have to resort to the same whining and complaining and false histrionics that is so repugnant, yet is practiced by the top stars of the game. So Rose has begun yelling back and Vinny walking out.
“I’m trying to talk up a little more, make them call calls they are supposed to call. We needed (the ejection), need that more often,” said Rose. “We’ve go to be known in this league, they’re not going to keep doing that.”
So much for innocence. The Bulls led 72-62 with about a minute left in the third when Del Negro was ejected. It was 72-66 Bulls after three, and the Bulls would stretch it out to 83-70 with about six minutes left with Rose hitting a second three after missing his first five, Rose again with a hanging drive for his oooh and aaah moment, and Hinrich with a step in 20 footer.
Del Negro, trying to resist temptation to play Noah too much, has settled for now playing him the last six or seven minutes of each half. It also was a way to save Noah for the end of the game. So Noah went back in.
But the Rockets had gone small to catch up and Noah kept getting caught in bad matchups. Aaron Brooks finally hit a pair of jumpers in a three of 17 nightmare and the Bulls began to melt with Rose missing Noah on a roll, Noah throwing a bad inside pass for another turnover, Brad Miller missing both free throws and Houston drawing another questionable flop call on Hinrich.
Suddenly, it was 85-81 Bulls with 2:16 left, plenty of time to blow this one with Toronto winning.
But the Bulls came out of a timeout isolating Rose on top and he walked into a 17 footer. He then held the ball on top, dribbling as Noah came up for a screen and dropped off and the defense backed up. Rose then went to nearly the same spot and got a kind bounce and the ball went down. The Rockets matched both scores. But Rose then beat the trap that was coming every time off the screen, penetrated and casually pitched to Hinrich who made the huge three for the 92-86 lead with 56.2 seconds left.
Yes, the kid is a big time closer. No fear.
It would be nice to have another, but you don’t necessarily need one. Rose can make the plays.
“I’m just trying be aggressive,” said Rose. “Teams are blitzing me, so that leaves people open. I drove. Kirk shoots those shots every day (in practice). He was wide open. Why not pass him the ball?”
The kid’s a point guard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. He’s just one who can do pretty much everything else when he needs to.
“I can make the shot,” Rose said when asked about his new found fondness for shooting threes, which critics said he couldn’t. “I work on that every day. My team trusts me to take those shots, so I’m going to shoot them. I’m not afraid.”
And then in a bit of poetic justice, the Bulls clinched the game when Kevin Martin beat Murray off the wing. But Hinrich was under the basket guarding Lowry. Hinrich stepped up and was run over by Martin for a charging foul and the Bulls made enough free throws (17 of 26 for the game) to keep Houston away.
“Derrick’s been doing a good job making plays,” said Hinrich. “It’s the rest of our jobs to knock down shots when we get the opportunity.”
Every one is big now.

Bulls blown out again in echoes of Tim Floyd Era

I admit I wasn’t watching the Bulls game with the Atlanta Hawks that carefully when the Bulls were down 36 points in the fourth quarter with Jason Collins and Randolph Morris shooting uncontested jump shots. But I thought I saw someone hand a pink piece of paper to Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro.
I know, that’s what you want.
Let’s fire the coach. Lovie Smith and Lou Piniella, too, while you’re at it, and didn’t the Blackhawks already fire a coach? It’s a Chicago passion. Isn’t there a backup quarterback to put in the game?
Things don’t look good for Del Negro or the Bulls after still another rout, a 118-83 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday on national TV, no less, that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. I know. I’ve used that bad line too many times in the last few weeks, and it’s as tired as the Bulls play.
“This game is all mental,” said Derrick Rose, who led the Bulls with 19 points and seven assists but had his own mental lapse in the third quarter with three turnovers in 74 seconds which helped turn the game into a rout for the Hawks. “Either you want it or you don’t. The score tonight speaks for itself. We have to find ways to win. A loss like this really hurts. We’ve been blown out in several games this season, and it’s really frustrating.”
Anyone who has watched this knows the level of disaster with nine losses in the last 10 games to fall to 7-13, a half dozen games in that stretch in which the Bulls have trailed by at least an inexcusable 24 points during the game and a loss to the then 1-19 Nets.
Even worse, the Bulls have become something of an object of league wide ridicule.
There was LeBron James dancing around while the Cavs were dominating the Bulls last Friday and Chuck Hayes of the Rockets saying you don’t complain but knock him on his rear. There was Jarrett Jack tying his shoes during a possession while he had the ball and Raptors coach Jay Triano saying they would have knocked him on his rear. There’s not much rear knocking done by anyone these days, but you don’t want to be the one they are talking about not so nicely.
We all were warned it was a tough early season schedule; there were injuries to Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, the latter still out and Hinrich returning Wednesday without having practiced and, predictably, missing all nine shots in 22 minutes; it was a thin roster with two rookies and the season, while not a throwaway, was a transition year until the free agency class of the summer of 2010.
Still, no one expected anything like this, especially after a nice start to the season in which the Bulls defense clearly was better and more active and the team beat the Spurs and Cavs and had that replay call go against them to take away a win over the Nuggets.
No one said the Bulls were Eastern contenders or even with much chance to get past a first round playoff matchup. That was for future seasons. But the expectation was to be one of those teams in the last three playoff spots, like last season, and definitely competitive.
It’s not happening the way this team is playing, obviously.
So fire the coach and do what, exactly? The two coaches fired thus far this season were replaced by general managers with little or no coaching experience. John Paxson? Nah. How’d you like that Jim Boylan interim experience?
I feel and understand the frustration everyone feels, and the conventional wisdom is a new coach lights a fire under the team, that now they start defending and hustling because if you lose like that it means the players have given up on the coach.
“I don’t think me and my teammates have given up, but we’re going to have to find some ways to turn things around,” said Rose amidst growing questions to players about Del Negro’s status. “This is not to take anything away from the Hawks, because they are a good team, but we have to give better efforts if we hope to win some games.”
So maybe the Bulls put in the 65-year-old Bernie Bickerstaff, the team’s top and most experienced assistant.

I have high personal regard for Bernie, and perhaps such a change is inevitable. But does changing the voice make up 30-point deficits? Win one for Bernie! Bernard?
If the Bulls continue like this, it’s difficult to imagine something isn’t done. No one ever survives that in sports. No one ever has.
But you can make changes, at least in the short term, and it’s time to do that.
If anything, Vinny has been exceptionally loyal to his players, rarely making lineup changes and never calling anyone out. It’s not his personality and you see that in some former players who become coaches because they treat players as they wanted to be treated.
Del Negro changed the starting lineup before the Nets loss Tuesday taking out Taj Gibson for Brad Miller, who doesn’t seem in season condition yet as his usually reliable shot has been unreliable.
It’s not a deep Bulls roster, especially with Thomas still out. But what the Bulls lack now is what they didn’t to start the season, energy and effort.
You lose games like the Bulls have when you bench your effort and energy.
The Bulls need to explode into games, and they’ll have to Friday at the United Center with the high flying and fast firing Golden State Warriors.
The Bulls, really, have two distinct sets of personalities on the team with energy guys like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich and more passive guys like John Salmons, Miller and Rose when he doesn’t have the ball. Thomas can be that kind of energy player when he returns, though he hardly makes up those deficits just by his return. He’s a piece.
I’d say to start the shakeup go with Rose and Hinrich in the backcourt with Deng, Gibson and Noah and pressure and trap and open the floor and just play.
Especially with Rose, as I’ve been writing for some time, get him out of that high screen/roll. Isolate him on top like that bad Cavs offense for LeBron James, and let Rose create. Maybe put him in a screen/roll with Deng, who can pick and pop and catch a pass on a roll. Changing things up also challenges the players.
Maybe even makes them mad enough to say, “I’ll show you.”
Let Salmons come in with Miller and work more in the half court, where they are better, and perhaps can get a run against reserves and get some thrust from the bench, which has been dead and outscored Wednesday 66-32. Coaches like Del Negro fear losing a player, like the sensitive Salmons, but better than losing your job. Hey, what’s to lose now the way things have been going?
This wasn’t a game the Bulls figured to have much chance on a back to back, anyway, arriving late after being delayed by snow in Chicago and with the Hawks coming in 14-6 after three days off and no injuries.
“We tried to stay with them early on, but our turnovers got us,” said Del Negro, who has handled the growing pressure on him gracefully and professionally, a good message to players. “They jumped on us early in the third quarter, and then we ended up playing catch up. We don’t score the ball well enough to play catch up like that. (Jamal) Crawford (with a game high 29 points) came in and gave them a big boost off the bench. We struggled with being able to convert and not putting any pressure on the ball. The Hawks are long, athletic and young, and I’m sure that it helped that they’ve been off since Saturday.”
Still, you’ve got to compete better.
Rose came out fast, as he’s promised, scoring six of the Bulls first eight points and taking four of the team’s first six shots. Look, Rose is doing fine and is a heck of a player.
He doesn’t want to score so much. He really is a point guard and I’m confident will be a great one. But, c’mon, the defense isn’t guarding anyone else. Great players like Jordan and Kobe and LeBron generally want to be “the man.” I don’t think Rose cares. I think he’d love to play with someone better and just get him the ball. But he has to score, so he tried and came out aggressive. You have to love that.
Remember, also, Rose is being asked to run the team. No, Derrick, be the scorer. No, pass. No, shoot. It wasn’t until his third season in the NBA Isiah Thomas played for a team with a winning record. It was the fourth season for Michael Jordan. The best needed help. So does Rose. He doesn’t have it yet.
The Bulls led much of the first quarter and trailed 22-21 after one as they were defending. Deng, who is playing well this season, had good recognition with Rose on one play when Crawford took Deng on a switch and Deng ran right to the post and was fouled. But Noah got two cheap calls, one on a seemingly obvious flop and a second on incidental contact. You don’t get any respect when you are losing.
Hinrich came in with 3:39 left in the first, but his shots weren’t even close. Still, he did try.
The Hawks began to space it out in the second quarter as Crawford got going. Miller had a casual inbounds pass under his own basket picked off by Zaza Pachulia, Salmons got blocked from behind on a fast break by little Jeff Teague, Al Horford ran out after a Noah miss and the Bulls trotted back in transition and Rose, as he’ll sometimes do, threw back for a three-point shot on the break when he should have finished and drawn contact.
It was 56-42 Atlanta at halftime, and then it really began to get ugly as the Bulls seemed to give in, if not exactly quit.
Losing becomes a mentality, and that’s probably the biggest opponent for the team now.
Josh Smith ran out and Salmons offered up a soft foul as Smith scored and got the three-point play chance. Taj Gibson continued to play strong and whenever he had the chance finished strong with dunks. James Johnson had 17 points, all in the fourth quarter, off the bench. He did get to the line, but doesn’t attack the basket aggressively and put up too many shots from below his belt.
It got really ugly later in the third when Maurice Evans blocked consecutive shots by Hinrich and Deng, leading to a fast break in which Joe Johnson (another future free agent whose team blew out the Bulls) lobbed to Josh Smith for a ferocious slam dunk and 30-point lead with 3:35 left in the third.
That was 22-6 Atlanta on fast break points, by the way, against a Bulls team that needs to run to score and which says it committed to defense this season. Instead, they spent a lot of time admiring their jump shots.
That was 20-4 Atlanta to open the third quarter as fast as you can say Bryce Drew to Dalibor Bagaric.
Turn out the lights, Dandy Don, the party’s over.
“They’re a very good team, and we know that,” said Del Negro. “Joakim got into foul trouble early, which hurt us. These games are frustrating, but you have to battle through it, and find ways to get back in the game.”
The Bulls and Del Negro need to start finding those ways fast.

Bulls lose a coach

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The Bulls lost a coach Tuesday.No, not that one!Ron Adams, who was a Bulls assistant for five years before scouting and doing front office work this season, left to join the staff of interim coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City. Adams had been bumped from the bench when new coach Vinny Del Negro opted for veteran assistants Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff, but always intended to return to coaching. He joins their staff Wednesday against the Warriors.”Ron is a good coach and a good teacher,” said former Bulls coach Scott Skiles. “He worked with our big guys, but I wouldn’t classify Ron one way or the other (offensive or defense). He just is a good coach, a good teacher a hard worker, knowledgeable about the game and the league.”Skiles filled his staff while Adams still was in the Bulls coaching picture, so Skiles brought with him to Milwaukee former Bulls assistant and interim head coach Jim Boylan.Adams has coached in the NBA for 17 seasons with the Bulls, Bucks, Spurs and 76ers after being a head coach at Fresno State and Fresno Pacific and served on several collegiate staffs, including UNLV.Though being an assistant is often an anonymous job with more hours than many believe, Adams was thrust into the public eye last year when it was he whom Joakim Noah yelled at in practice, causing Noah’s infamous suspension which his teammates asked be extended.The irony is Adams had made Noah a personal project and had worked quite a bit with Noah, even having Christmas dinner with Noah and his mother. When that was mentioned at the time, the worldly Adams, who has also coached in Belgium and Japan, joked he just wanted to meet Noah’s mom, a former Miss Sweden.And perhaps it is just coincidence, but Noah was on an upward arc working with Adams last season, but has regressed badly this season.Noah averaged five points and 4.7 rebounds before the All Star break last season and 8.9 points and seven rebounds after the break. Noah’s scoring averages increased last season every month but one as he closed the season averaging 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in April.His scoring was 3.2 in November, 4.6 in December, 6.6 in January, 5.5 in February, 9.1 in March and 10.6 in April. Noah also averaged a season best 7.9 rebounds in March and then 6.8 in April. His steals, blocks and assists also were on an upward track almost every month and finished with season bests last April of 1.7 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals. Noah had five of his eight double/doubles after the All Star break, including 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks against the Cavs April 11, 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks against the Bucks March 29 and 13 points and 20 rebounds against the Cavs March 6.Noah scored in double figures in 10 of the Bulls’ last 14 games of last season after scoring in double figures in nine of the team’s first 52 games until the All Star break.But this season Noah has scored in double figures just once and has totaled double figures in rebounds twice in the team’s 31 games. His point and rebound averages for each month are higher than only his first two months of his rookie season.The relocated-from-Seattle Thunder have four seven footers on their roster with the Nets not matching the offer for Nenad Krstic. He will join Robert Swift, Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene. Yes, Adams has his work ahead. We wish him the best.Meanwhile, there’s continued speculation of Kirk Hinrich’s return sooner than the expected February timing. The team isn’t saying much because you never know with serious injuries and it still is contingent on what the doctors say. No matter what Hinrich says, when you guarantee someone’s salary for three more years after this, you better be sure. You can be sure after Grant Hill the Magic isn’t letting players come back so quickly.Hinrich has been telling teammates since he had his wrap taken off his thumb Dec. 16 that he was three weeks or so from coming back. In fact, in our blog here writing about the loss in Boston the only good news I could come up with was Hinrich was talking about feeling that he was maybe some three weeks from a return then.But if Hinrich can return, say, by the third week of January that would put him in excellent position…to be traded.Maybe he doesn’t want to come back after all.The thinking at the time of his freak thumb injury was Hinrich might be out until the All Star break. So it wasn’t like he’d be on the table for any deals despite several teams having expressed interest since the draft lottery because Hinrich plays point guard. But now that could open a whole range of possibilities for the Bulls with a player who would be valuable to a good team missing a guard since Hinrich is considered a good defender and can play shooting guard as well. Of course, it’s not like the Bulls couldn’t use him about now with Lindsey Hunter not seemingly able to adequately provide enough relief minutes for Derrick Rose.Rose could use some rest as that so called rookie wall approaches with the team over 30 games now, and the Bulls could use some more of the perimeter defense that Hinrich can provide.Hunter is on a non guaranteed deal and players on teams as of Jan. 10 have their deals guaranteed for the rest of the season.