Last year Scott Skiles was fired by the Bulls on Christmas Eve because judging by their play on the court, Skiles' team had completely tuned him out. They weren't really running any kind of offensive sets as much as they were dribbling for as long as possible before taking an ill-advised shot. Then after Skiles was let go and Jim Boylan took over things got even worse because the team knew they were playing for a lame duck coach.
So after being scorned by Mike D'Antoni general manager John Paxson settled on a man with absolutely no experience as a coach: Vinny Del Negro. Del Negro must have thought he was running for President after he was hired because he made a lot of promises, but hasn't done much to keep them. We were promised a more up-tempo attack on offense -- something a lot of Bulls fans had been clamoring for for years -- and once the team landed the #1 pick and Derrick Rose, it seemed as though things were falling in place.
Well we're now five games into the season and we haven't seen this new offense. In fact, the 2008-2009 version of the Bulls look a lot like the previous versions. They lack direction on offense anytime Derrick Rose takes a seat on the bench, and at times it looks as though players are getting lost just waiting for him to do something when he has the ball.
The offense hasn't been the only problem either, as the defense still looks just as lackluster as ever. We can only wonder if the thought of actually getting in front of LeBron James ever occurred to a Bulls defender on Wednesday night. Now I know that it's much easier said than done, and while there's no shame in giving up 41 points to King James, it'd be nice if the team could have tried to stop him. Seriously, Vin, what drugs did you take that made you think Kirk Hinrich could guard LeBron?
The longest shots James took all night were from the free throw line as he was able to penetrate the lane at will. In fact, the best defensive play the Bulls made last night was when Rose stuck his foot underneath James as he came down, and LeBron rolled his ankle after stepping on his foot.
All the while Del Negro stood on the sidelines looking like a deer in the headlights. Now I have no problem with the Bulls losing to a touch Cleveland team on the road, but they look like they have absolutely no plan out there. During one stretch the Bulls had battled to within seven points of the Cavs, and spent three straight possessions turning the ball over or watching Drew Gooden throw up an air ball.
Now when your team is out of sync like that, it would be a good time to call a timeout. All Del Negro did was stand there and stare. Which is exactly how the Bulls have been playing so far.
It's time for Vinny to shake things up -- it may be time to put Ben Gordon back in the starting lineup and it would be nice if Tyrus Thomas could get some more minutes -- and figure out just what the heck he plans on doing out there. It's one thing to lose because you were beaten by a better team, and another thing entirely to lose because you just have no idea what you're doing.