Del Negro fired as Bulls coach
CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls fired coach Vinny Del Negro yesterday 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 this 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 the Bulls are looking to hire an experienced coach this time, Doug Collins, Byron Scott, Lawrence Frank, Kevin McHale, Maurice Cheeks would fit that description.
STERN HOPES JAMES STAYS WITH CAVS
NBA commissioner David Stern knows Cleveland fans are anxious about this summer and LeBron James' pending free agency. He is rooting for the same outcome as Cavaliers fans.
"Hopefully he'll stay," Stern said yesterday before Game 2 between Cleveland and Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. "That's the way the system is designed."
Stern helped negotiate the current collective bargaining agreement, which provides teams the ability to pay more and add an extra year for their own free agents. Stern is hopeful that will allow teams such as Cleveland to retain its stars.
James Headline 1s what is expected to be a marquee class that can include Miami's Dwyane Wade and Toronto's Chris Bosh.
Free agency doesn't officially begin until July 1.
RILEY TO REMAIN AS TEAM PRESIDENT
Pat Riley's time leading the Miami Heat will not end anytime soon.
Riley says he has extended his deal to serve as the team's president of basketball operations. The Hall of Fame coach and team owner Micky Arison recently struck an agreement, but Riley would not reveal any details.
Riley, 65, retired as Miami's coach after the 2007-08 season.
Hornets: A person familiar with the negotiations says New Orleans Hornets majority owner George Shinn has reached a deal to sell his shares of the team to minority owner Gary Chouest. The club is planning to formally introduce Chouest as early as Thursday, the person told The Associated Press yesterday.
76ers: Former NBA coach Avery Johnson has been interviewed by the Philadelphia 76ers for their coaching position. The Sixers say that Johnson met yesterday with general manager Ed Stefanski and other members of the organization in Houston.
Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko returned yesterday for his first full practice with the Utah Jazz since aggravating his strained left calf last month. The Russian forward gave himself a 50-50 chance of playing tonight in Game 2 of Utah's playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers.