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He inherits a team that expected to contend in the Eastern Conference after a first-round playoff sweep of Miami in 2007 -- Chicago's first series victory since the championship era -- and a six-game loss to Detroit in the second round. But the high hopes quickly turned into empty promises.
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 -- set a bad tone the Bulls could not change.
The unselfishness and hard-nosed defense that defined them in recent years was missing. Individual agendas took over, and players argued with each other and their coaches.
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 went to Cleveland in the Larry Hughes trade. And just last month Noah was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., for having an open container of alcohol and also was charged with marijuana possession.
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 Boylan during a game. Duhon is an unrestricted free agent who probably won't be back.
It's hard to say whether players who tuned out Skiles and Boylan will respond to a rookie coach. Then again, it's not clear how many of them will be with the team next season. Paxson figures to make a few roster moves besides choosing between Rose or Beasley, assuming the Bulls keep the No. 1 pick.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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