Bulls, Suns assistant GM Del Negro agree on deal

Vinny Del Negro worked in the Phoenix Suns' front office last season. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Vinny Del Negro has accepted an offer to coach the Chicago Bulls.

The team said Tuesday that general manager John Paxson will introduce Del Negro at a news conference Wednesday.

Del Negro was a Phoenix Suns assistant general manager who has never been a head coach. His selection ends a coaching search in which the Bulls pursued Mike D'Antoni and Doug Collins.

Del Negro inherits a team that went from 49 wins to 49 losses this past season and missed the playoffs after making the second round in 2007. The Bulls have the first pick in this month's draft.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Del Negro first interviewed with the Bulls on Thursday and moved ahead of Sacramento Kings assistant Chuck Person and former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey, who both had second interviews last week with Bulls management, including chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

Doug Collins, who coached Chicago from 1986 to '89, had been expected to return to the Bulls' sideline but told the team to look elsewhere last week.

The Bulls' search, which stretched on for nearly two months, featured interviews with more than a dozen candidates and frustrating near-deals with Mike D'Antoni and Collins -- both of whom, sources told ESPN.com, were wanted badly by Bulls front-office chief John Paxson.

Del Negro had also interviewed for the Phoenix vacancy created by D'Antoni's departure after spending the past season as a top aide to Suns president Steve Kerr, who is close with Paxson. Del Negro, 42, has made no secret of his desire to move to the coaching side of the game, recently telling The Arizona Republic: "It has always been tugging at me. … I enjoy the business part of [basketball], but this process has opened my eyes to the passion I have for coaching."

A first-round sweep of Miami -- Chicago's first series victory since the championship era -- and a six-game loss to Detroit in the second round last year gave the Bulls high hopes that quickly crashed. The Kobe Bryant trade rumors and failed contract negotiations with Luol Deng and Ben Gordon -- who turned down five-year extensions worth more than $50 million -- left Chicago in a funk it could not shake.

The unselfishness and hard-nosed defense that defined recent teams was missing. Players bickered with each other and lashed out at coaches as the losses mounted, and some skipped practices and shootarounds.

Joakim Noah, last year's first-round pick, lashed out at assistant Ron Adams in January and was initially suspended one game before teammates voted to make it two. Noah also clashed with Ben Wallace, who was traded to Cleveland.

And just last month Noah was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., for having an open container of alcohol and also was charged with marijuana possession. Noah accepted a deferred prosecution agreement, resulting in six months' probation and a $200 fine.

Tyrus Thomas skipped practice, Chris Duhon missed a shootaround the day after he attended a Duke-North Carolina game, and Andres Nocioni had words with interim head coach Jim Boylan during a game. Duhon is an unrestricted free agent who probably won't be back, and Paxson figures to make some moves whether the No. 1 overall pick, which the Bulls won in the NBA draft lottery, is involved or not.

"Hardly a year goes by when you don't do something. But first we have to decide what we want to do with the pick," Reinsdorf said last week. "And then we listen to offers for it, and then we'll think about what else we're going to do."

Information from ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan and Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.