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IC Cold Links: Del Negro Finally Sent Packing; Hayward Staying In Draft

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You'd think the team that would be changing coaches within the Central Division would be the one that hasn't been to the playoffs for four years, saw its worst season in 20 years, and is on the verge of financial disaster. But the Indiana Pacers are sticking behind coach Jim O'Brien, while the Chicago Bulls will be dumping their coach in an announcement expected at noon today, according to ESPN.

Despite leading the Bulls to the playoffs two straight seasons, the Bulls had a much publicized tussle with their coach Vinny Del Negro, and with the possibility of landing a big-name free agent in the offseason, the Bulls are hoping to land a much bigger name and reputation to man their bench next season. Del Negro had one year remaining on his contract. Huh, so does another coach in this general vicinity of the world.

The names to replace Del Negro and bring the Bulls back to glory are coming in from every direction. Some blogs are making big cases for John Calipari to skip out on Kentucky and make the move to coach Derrick Rose. Other candidates seem more reasonable as the usual suspects from this offseason's coaching carousel (Doug Collins, Jeff Van Gundy, Byron Scott, Avery Johnson) are also making the rounds with Collins considered a heavy favorite. ESPN even mentioned Phil Jackson as being very possible if the Bulls land a major free agent.

Del Negro has received support lately from people on the tube (notably Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley), but it wasn't enough. Reports now surfacing say the Bulls wanted him out during the Christmas holidays, but after the team won nine of 11 games during January, the Bulls stuck with him until the end of the season. Del Negro needed a miracle to keep his job.

So Del Negro is gone. O'Brien is still here. Gotta love it. More links after the jump.