CHICAGO (AP) -Mike D'Antoni is off the board, so the Chicago Bulls remain on the clock. A new week means a new round of interviews as the search for a coach continues.
Next up?
It could be Avery Johnson. Or broadcaster Mark Jackson, or a hot assistant such as Boston's Tom Thibodeau or Detroit's Michael Curry. Or it could be somebody else.
Whoever gets hired will have to reconnect a fractured team that expected to contend in the Eastern Conference but fell into the lottery.
Johnson, Thibodeau and Curry are known to preach defense, which is favored by Bulls general manager John Paxson.
Johnson went 194-70 and led Dallas to the NBA finals in three-plus seasons before getting fired two weeks ago after players tuned him out. He's owed $12 million over the next three seasons unless another team hires him, and he's reportedly considering sitting out a year.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has said he won't grant teams permission to speak to Thibodeau because he doesn't want the distraction during the playoffs. The Pistons might not let teams talk to Curry, a possible heir apparent to Flip Saunders.
And Jackson, who has no coaching experience, was thought to be the front-runner for the New York Knicks job that went to D'Antoni. He has interviewed with Chicago.
Paxson has mostly kept mum on the search, although he did indicate in a statement to several media outlets over the weekend that the Bulls were poised to make an offer to D'Antoni on Saturday. Paxson had met with him six days earlier in Phoenix and recommended him to owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who interviewed D'Antoni on Friday.
But by the time the Bulls were ready to present their offer, D'Antoni had agreed to coach the Knicks for a reported four years and $24 million. The move came even though Chicago's younger players seemed to be a better fit than the plodding group D'Antoni inherited in New York.
Then again, D'Antoni and the Bulls might not have been a good match given Paxson's defense-oriented nature and D'Antoni's fallout with similarly minded Suns general manager Steve Kerr. Yet, Paxson apparently was willing to let D'Antoni step on the accelerator after watching the Bulls go from 49 wins last season to 49 losses this one.
The unselfishness and hard-nosed defense that defined the Bulls in recent years were nowhere to be found, as opponents shot 45.3 percent and averaged 100.4 points. It was a sharp contrast from the previous season, when the Bulls were second in opponents' field-goal percentage after leading the league for two seasons.
Though an offense-minded coach might seem like an odd match, the Bulls weren't exactly slow when they reached the second round of the playoffs in 2007. They still have some quick, athletic players who might have adapted to the up-tempo style.
D'Antoni's arrival in Chicago would have meant instant offense and instant excitement, if not a championship. He never won one of those in Phoenix, but he helped make the Suns one of the most entertaining teams. Having Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire helped, of course, and the Bulls' roster would have needed some tweaking to fit that style. It needs some, anyway.
But there's a more immediate issue to address.

NBA Team Pages

Recent NBA Discussions