Respect For Vinny Del Negro? It Might Be Time

Hooray for barely noticeable improvements

Vinny Del Negro is not a good NBA coach. It doesn't take much Bulls tape study to figure that one out. Anyone with a few minutes on their hands and a TV can see that Del Negro has huge flaws as a coach, is unsure of himself, relies on his assistants constantly, and is pretty much just not great at his job. It's fair to say because it's true.

But in the Bulls' already-legendary four-game series with the defending champ Boston Celtics, where the most exciting things have been happening thanks to Ben Gordon, Derrick Rose and company, it's worth nothing something sort of surprising: Vinny Del Negro doesn't entirely suck.

Now. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Del Negro still does the stuff that makes him a bad coach, or at least one that very clearly doesn't have a great feel for the game. His timeout selections are occasionally sketchy. (Close games require late timeouts, Vin. Remember that.) His on-the-fly set plays look painfully amateur, especially when in comparison with Doc Rivers' creative work. Del Negro still seems to rely on assistants Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff in nearly every time out. How much of the time he spends absorbing his assistants' ideas could be spent actually, you know, talking with players?

But there have bright spots. Del Negro has been very good at managing a steady rotation in the playoffs. He has clearly recognized his strengths. In yesterday's Bulls win, not only did he keep the ball in Derrick Rose's hands, he recognized that the Celtics were unwisely switching ball screens. Rose was able to get his shot on anyone who rotated over to him; Rajon Rondo is the only one with any chance of stopping the rookie guard, and with Rondo switched off, Rose was able to get to the hoop at will.

There have been other good things, too. Del Negro seems more sure of himself, for one. He's grabbing the clipboard and going. He's learning on the fly, but at least we can say that much. He's learning.

Del Negro still hasn't sold us on his coaching abilities, because it's impossible to know what a different coach would do with the same young rising assemblage of talent. But for now, he doesn't seem to be hampering the Bulls. That this is so much of an improvement is both really encouraging and kind of sad at the same time.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who realizes you could say the same thing about him. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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