Former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is back in action as the NBA draft combine director: 'I love coaching. I love teaching.'

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- Vinny Del Negro sat at the head of the table inside a conference room Friday at Quest Multisport. All eyes landed on him.

Hours before action began at the second and final day of the NBA draft combine, Del Negro gathered the 16 coaches -- former NBA players in the coaches development program, G League coaches, former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes -- and reviewed the day's plan. There were drills to lead, games to coach.

"We're trying to help these young kids become better players," Del Negro said of the close to 70 combine attendees. "Give them some knowledge and experience. I think the staff is doing a great job."

Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's vice president of basketball operations, asked Del Negro to serve as the combine director this year. The job involves overseeing coaches, helping assemble teams and formulating strategies.

The former Bulls and Clippers coach held several meetings with the coaches to review the offenses to run and defensive philosophies to use for the scrimmages. He thanked Milton Lee, the former Nets director of basketball operations and combine veteran, as his right-hand man.

Del Negro is six years removed from being fired after coaching the 2012-13 Clippers to a 56-26 mark and a playoff appearance, one of four in his five NBA seasons. He coached the Bulls to consecutive 41-41 marks and two first-round playoff exits from 2008-10.


Does Del Negro, who went a combined 210-184 in his five seasons with the Bulls and Clippers, want back in?

"I love coaching. I love teaching," he said. "There have been some opportunities I've looked at but they weren't the right situation for me. I had two interesting situations when I coached. When things start to close, sometimes they open. When they open, they close quicker than you think. You just never know.

"But basketball has been great to me. I love to be back on the sidelines. I enjoy doing things like this or things for the NBA or giving coaches clinics or speeches or helping college kids. Maybe I'll take advantage of an opportunity someday if the right one comes across my desk."

Del Negro, who joked that his plan to lose some weight this week was foiled by Chicago's restaurants, has fond memories of his eventful Bulls stint.


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