The Bulls are on the wrong side of the tiebreaker for the last playoff spot in the East. It might not even matter for Vinny Del Negro's job security, after a very public disagreement with management over Joakim Noah's usage.
As the standings would indicate, every game really matters right now. So why was Noah, one of Chicago's best players (and certainly their "energy" guy) sitting on the bench for all but 12 seconds of both overtimes in a loss to the Nets on Friday?
Noah's battled plantar fasciitis, and been on something of a minutes limit since return. The confusion lies in who's setting this minutes limit, and what it is from day to day. Apparently it was 35 minutes on Friday, and with Noah having reached that in regulation, Del Negro didn't want to send him back out there. Even if not playing him means he won't have a chance to play anyone after Wednesday.
So what happened Friday? A high-stakes game of Telephone, more or less. After regulation, assistant Lindsay Hunter went to GM Gar Forman and asked if they could put Noah out there. Forman called VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson, who gave the OK. The message wound its way back to Del Negro, and...still no Noah.
Noah says he's frustrated. The front office isn't talking. Del Negro calls it a "miscommunication," though you can't blame him for being trigger-shy after he's been chewed out twice in the last couple months by management for exceeding Noah's minutes limit.
Basically, no one's steering the ship in Chicago. The one thing everyone seems to be on the same page about is that there's going to be a coaching search starting very, very soon.
Forman says Del Negro didn't have to pull Noah in OT [Chicago Sun-Times]
No limit on Noah with playoffs on line [Chicago Tribune]