Del Negro: Report on his fate untrue

Updated: December 29, 2009, 11:21 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said an ESPN.com report that a decision to fire him already has been made is "totally not accurate."

Citing sources with knowledge of the Bulls' thinking, Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine reported on Sunday night that a decision has been made and the Bulls are just waiting to find Del Negro's replacement.

The coach said he and Bulls management are on the same page, and Del Negro told reporters to ask vice president of basketball operations John Paxson or general manager Gar Forman about the situation. Forman declined to speak to reporters after practice Monday.

Phone messages left for Paxson and Forman were not returned on Sunday, but in text messages to ESPN The Magazine on Sunday night, Paxson neither confirmed nor denied the report.

"It's just funny to me," Del Negro said. "There's really nothing to say. You have all these people that have rumors, and everyone has their sources. It's just not accurate.

"I don't have time to deal with rumors. I talk to Gar and Pax every day. They're at practice every day. It's just that you got to deal with those things. It's unfortunate. Everyone has their source. No one's sources so far have been very accurate. My focus is getting the team ready for [Tuesday's game] against Indiana."

Del Negro did say the rumors surrounding his job security are taking a toll on him.

"It's a little frustrating," he said, "because I know how hard the staff works and how prepared we are. But it comes down to wins and losses, and I'm not pleased where we're at with our [11-17] record. I think we've let a few slip away. But we've also dealt with a lot of things, but you can't use those as excuses.

"We have to go with the guys that are ready to go, and we need to play a little bit better. And do it more consistently. I can take that. But, all these sources, and all these people that come out just trying to fill space, that's going to happen. It's just part of the way people are ... I don't let it affect myself or the team. I focus on what I can control and that's our effort and our preparation. And our work today."

When asked if management is still behind him, Del Negro said: "Oh yeah. Absolutely. I talk to them every day.

"When you ask those questions, it's easy for me to say that, but go ask those guys. Go ask them. But I talk to them every day. We're focused on the team. I'm focused on getting better. I'm focused on Indiana. Those are questions for them to answer. But it's really a waste of time, because I know we're on the same page. It's just that people are going to jump on the bandwagon and all these sources and everything. When people are down they're going to jump on you. That's just the way it is."

Del Negro said he understands that in almost all cases coaches are hired to be fired.

"Yeah, it's part of the business," he said. "There's huge expectations. That's why I said from day one: managing expectations is the key in this business. Being on the same page with ownership and front-office [executives] and the team, everyone. Our expectations are we need to play a little bit better. But no one is harder on themselves or wants more for this team or organization than me.

"That's how I approach it. I can't control what everyone says. And all these rumors and all these things that are put out there that are just totally not accurate. And I go on what the people I work with and the people that make those decisions tell me. They've been supportive."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard contributed to this report.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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