So unless you're a casual Bulls fan or have been sleeping under a rock [unlikely for readers of this blog], you've heard about the Paxson/VDN conflict story by now. I spent much of the night digesting the story and trying to figure out what I make of it.
First, it adds another level of intrigue to the New Jersey game. Was there a legitimate miscommunication at this point? It seems clear why VDN wasn't taking matters into his own hands and playing Noah more without permission, so the question is did he not really find out he had permission or did he not play Noah to spike management for the way they treated him for exceeding the minute limit by two minutes just recently?
I'm going to go with the first, since it's the life choice that makes the most sense. It's more important to win than to spite people. Now, I know plenty of people who would spite others even at great cost to themselves, and it's possible VDN is such a person, but I'm going to assume the best of him and think that isn't the case for now.
Next, any hint of a thought of Del Negro staying on next season is completely out the door. Fans have felt this way for a long time, and there have been plenty of rumors [three separate sources have told me the Bulls plan to fire Del Negro at the end of the year dating back to December], but they were always rumors that you thought could be overridden by quality play by the team down the stretch.
That's obviously not the case. I think if the Bulls won the title this year they still might get rid of Del Negro at the end of the season.
Finally, and most importantly, we get our first real glimpse of why John Paxson has wanted to leave this job. I've heard he's a hot head before, but wow. This job is clearly eating him alive to start up a physical confrontation with Del Negro because Noah played two extra minutes.
There's really no excuse for what Paxon did, and I'm one of the few members left of the Paxson fan club. This is the first real example of Paxson doing something which really scares me about his ability to run the team. Is he making trades, signing contracts, or conducting other crucial Bulls business with this level of emotion and lack of control? I sure hope not, but can no longer be sure.
I wouldn't be surprised if this incident ends his career with the Bulls. Not because they'll fire him, but I think with it coming to light he may decide that he simply doesn't need this anymore. Something he's been saying for a couple years anyway.