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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bulls fire Del Negro

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls fired coach Vinny Del Negro on Monday in a long anticipated move that comes after a late-season altercation with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and another first-round playoff exit.

General manager Gar Forman is scheduled to discuss the firing at a news conference on Tuesday morning. He did not return messages seeking comment, nor did Paxson or Del Negro.

The Bulls went 41-41 and made the postseason in each of their two seasons under Del Negro, losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games after pushing Boston to seven games last year.

If Chicago is looking to hire an experienced coach this time, Doug Collins, Byron Scott, Lawrence Frank, Kevin McHale, Maurice Cheeks would fit that description.

Del Negro reportedly met with the organization's hierarchy over the past few days, including chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and made an argument to keep his job. He could point to Derrick Rose's development from Rookie of the Year to an All-Star this season and Joakim Noah's improvement, but it was not enough and it's hardly a surprise.

He was given a tepid endorsement from Forman amid widespread speculation in December that he would be fired following a slow start, but the Bulls made a run before struggling down the stretch.

They lost 10 straight at one point with Noah sidelined by a left foot injury. How the team handled that injury ultimately fueled a physical confrontation between the coach and Paxson that became public late in the season, when Chicago was struggling to get into the playoffs.

Along with getting to work with Rose, the new coach will be joining a team armed with enough salary-cap space to offer a maximum contract in a star-studded free-agent class that could include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

A fallback choice when he was hired out of Phoenix's front office, Del Negro never seemed to have the backing of management even before his run-in with Paxson.

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