The Bulls are a franchise stuck in neutral. I've understood this since the day they traded known quantity Elton Brand to draft Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry (yikes). Rebuilding project after rebuilding project has ensued. The Bulls have always lacked an identity in the post Jordan years, having always stuck with a collection of good (never great) role players. First it's the aforementioned "twin towers", then it's noted motorcycle enthusiast Jay Williams, followed by the Kirk Hinrich/Ben Gordon years, the trade of future star LaMarcus Aldridge for the very average Tyrus Thomas (yawn), and finally the signing of Ben Wallace (wtf?). An entire decade lost to the mediocre.
Essentially, I blame this mess on John Paxson. While the Bulls have largely been in contention for playoff berths the last 7 years, that in-of-itself is not that big of a deal in the Eastern Conference where sub .500 teams routinely reach the post season. Even the drafting of Derrick Rose means nothing since that was essentially a lucky circumstance and Rose was the no-brainer 1st choice. Seriously, what's the high-point of Paxson's tenure with the Bulls? Shafting Isiah Thomas in the Eddie Curry deal? A 5-year old could pull the wool over that guy's eyes. (I'll give him credit for Joakim Noah. I was dead set against that guy amounting to anything in the NBA. Now, he's essentially Bill Laimbeer with skill!) Routinely the Bulls under Paxson's watch have failed to get a real centerpiece to build the team around, and in a league in which your success rests on your best player being spectacular, leaving it up to Ben Gordon is just stupid (at least he didn't re-sign him).
All of that brings me to the events of the past month. It was revealed yesterday that Pax got into a shoving match with coach Vinny Del Negro over Noah's playing time. Everybody knows that these guys have had a contentious relationship (with some good reason. Vinny is a awful coach, and I would've tried to drop him off the back of the bus too if I had the chance), and everyone is using the events to talk about the problems with the Del Negro era. But this should not just be a referendum on Vinny, but one on Pax as well.
(Watch out Vinny! He's right behind you! From: the Trib)
Outside of the fact that this incident was basically criminal assault, Pax's record gives him nothing to fall back on, and he has previously acted un-professionally with his various coaching staffs. He has to go. (Vinny has to go as well) I know Jerry Reinsdorf protects "his guys," but loyalty can't cover up for the fact that two men who suck at their jobs just gained national attention for almost stumbling into a bare-knuckled fight in front of their co-workers and underlings. When is the Bulls organization going to realize that Pax is not cut out for this job, has a uneven managing style, and a lack of professional perspective. Yeesh, the better part of a decade is enough.