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12.25.2007

Is Paxson on a Short Leash Too?

The Chicago Bulls relieved Scott Skiles of his duties yesterday.

Like I was saying the other day, NBA coaching is constantly evaluated on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately basis.

Skiles joined the Bulls on Nov. 28, 2003, and won coach of the month in January 2004, and finished fourth in balloting for coach of the year for 2004-05. Even when things were going well, however, Skiles had a knack for starting slow. In 2004-05, Skiles' Bulls started the season 0-9 before finishing 47-35. In 2006-07 the Bulls started 3-9 before finishing 49-33. After the Bulls 18-point home loss to Houston on Saturday, Paxson decided it was time to cut bait.

Bulls assistant Jim Boylan, is likely to replace Skiles as interim coach.

The next question would seem to be whether John Paxson is also on a short leash?

Paxson was named Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations on April 14, 2003. With 13 player acquisitions, Paxson led the franchise to the playoffs in 2004-05 and again 2005-06, the Bulls first playoff appearances since Michael Jordan walked through those doors.

Paxson has drafted three NBA First-Team All-Rookie selections, Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, and Luol Deng. Paxson also signed Spanish League star Andres Nocioni prior to the 2004-05 season and watched the Argentina native bolster the Bulls' frontline. After finishing third for Executive of the Year honors in 2005, Paxson signed four-time All-Star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace in the summer of 2006, a move widely expected to put the Bulls in the running for a championship.

But the championship never materialized.

Every one of the Bulls top players, save one, have regressed since last year. There is talk that Ben Wallace's career is kaput. The first nail in the coffin might be that any time the Bulls team is now mentioned, it is accompanied by the fact that 11 of the Bulls 15 players have less than three years experience, an observation that was frequently used to explain or justify why Danny's Ainge's Celtics stunk for so long.

Thank God we hung on to Doc and Danny when others were demanding their heads.

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