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Report: Chicago Bulls VP John Paxson pushed Vinny Del Negro

Apr 13, 2010, 9:15 PM EDT

Things are a little tense in the Chicago Bulls front office.

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the recent tension between Bulls Vide President John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro turned physical.

After a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30, an irate Paxson walked into the coach’s office at the United Center and confronted Del Negro over a narrow breach of a management-imposed minutes limit on injured forward Joakim Noah(notes). Sources said Paxson first grabbed a hold of Del Negro’s tie and seemingly tried to provoke him with two successive jabs into his chest. Paxson was even heard to angrily challenge Del Negro to a fight.

There were several staff members present, sources said, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between Paxson and Del Negro and pulled Paxson away.

The Bulls are now investigating the incident.

Despite the Bulls being in the middle of a playoff push — including a big game tonight against Boston — Joakim Noah has been on a management-imposed 35 minutes per game limit, imposed apparently by Paxson. It has been there all season due to Noah’s foot injury, and the minute limits have gradually increased through the year.

When the Bulls were losing to the Nets the other night in a close game that went to overtime, Del Negro wanted to use Noah more. He had his assistant ask general manager Gar Forman, who had to go ask Paxson.

Del Negro comes out smelling pretty good in this one so far, especially for someone who has reportedly been on the hot seat. He did not take Paxson’s bait. He has gone through channels to get more playing time for Noah in what should be a coach’s decision. He has done fairly well with a team that was set up to have cap space next year and not win this year, then suffered a rash of injuries and some trades. Yet the Bulls are close to making the playoffs.

Is it ever good when vice presidents become involved in player minute micromanagement?

  1. Joseph - Apr 14, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    If the story is true as sports media writes about this story…Then, this is a problem that belongs in the Bull organization. And, if the Bull organization does not treat this as a serious happening…We may see a helluva court case and a lot of money change hands!

  2. Fernando - Apr 14, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    What the heck?

  3. Sguy2130 - Apr 14, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    Del Negro wants to put the caveman on the floor, and Paxson doesn’t. I say let the coach do what he wants and sign his own death warrant if Noah gets hurt. Nothing worse than a GM who abuses his power, coach/GM need to be on the same page.
    If that story about Paxson trying to physically provoke is actually true, then he needs to be removed. This isn’t high school Paxson.

  4. Joey - Apr 14, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Really odd in many ways… Expectations for this season were low so there shouldn’t be any pressure on Paxson, yet he’s acting like a guy on the hot seat. Reading the tea leafs, I’d say Del Negro’s getting this team in playoff contention has caused others in the organization to rethink dumping him which as put Paxson on edge. But if he thinks actions like this are going to help him, he’s a moron. At this rate they may end up with a new coach…but it’ll be somebody else hiring him because Paxson will be gone, too.

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