Skiles pays price for Bulls' slow start

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chicago fired its coach on Christmas Eve.

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The Chicago Bulls were sure this was their season to challenge for the Eastern Conference championship. If they do, it'll be with a new coach.

The Bulls fired Scott Skiles on Monday, hoping to shake up a team with one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference.

"I felt like something was going to happen," forward Luol Deng said. "I didn't know whether it was players or coaches. But you could definitely feel there was something. It just didn't seem like we were on the same page."

The underachieving Bulls (9-16) have lost three of their last four and were booed throughout by the home crowd during Saturday night's 116-98 loss to the Houston Rockets. Their next game is today at San Antonio.

With three straight playoff appearances after a long postseason drought, the Bulls' expectations were soaring. Then, they dropped 10 of their first 12 games, and they've been unable to capture the intensity that catapulted them into the second round of the playoffs last season.

They've lacked a consistent inside scoring threat the past few years, and now, their perimeter players are off target. Chicago is shooting a league-worst 41.3 percent, which partially explains why it hasn't been able to sustain a winning streak.

The Bulls didn't immediately announce a replacement for Skiles, who went 165-172 after replacing Bill Cartwright in November 2003. Bulls general manager John Paxson said he does not expect to hire a coach until after the season, with assistants Pete Myers or Jim Boylan likely taking over on an interim basis. Myers will coach the team against the Spurs.

Chicago is in a familiar spot with this season's slow start.

The Bulls dropped their first nine in 2004-05 and were 4-15 before going on a surge that led to 47 wins and their first playoff appearance since the Michael Jordan era. They needed a late surge the next season to make it to the playoffs, winning 12 of their final 14 regular-season games to finish with 41 wins.

And with high expectations following the arrival of Ben Wallace, the Bulls promptly dropped nine of their first 12 last season before turning things around. They wound up with 49 wins and swept Miami to capture a playoff series, then lost in six games to Detroit in the second round.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: