Last week, Jerry Reinsdorf went on Mike North and Dan Jiggetts' "Monsters in the Morning" Comcast show -- the TV show with all the visual wonder of radio! -- and let loose with his criticisms of the 2008-09 Bulls. Reinsdorf seemed exasperated, claimed he was embarassed, and all the while defended GM John Paxson from the implicit criticism about the state of the team.
Instead, Reinsdorf seemed to turn his anger elsewhere, noticeably refusing to comment when North asked him if the players weren't being "coached up." Reinsdorf said he had a lot of thoughts about the coaching, but not thoughts he "wanted to say publicly." Oooh. Media slam.
Naturally, it seemed like Reinsdorf was leaning toward firing rookie head coach Vinny Del Negro. Alas, today K.C. Johnson, Bulls beat reporter, doesn't see it. Convince us anxious blogging types, K.C.:
He's in the first season of a three-year deal, and Reinsdorf already is paying Scott Skiles not to work for him. Reinsdorf played a role in Del Negro's hiring after general manager John Paxson first signed off on Mike D'Antoni and Doug Collins. Little about Del Negro's learning curve in his first season coaching at any level surprises anybody in Bulls management. Reinsdorf has told Del Negro his cryptic comment that some read as not supporting Del Negro — "I have a lot of thoughts about [the coaching], but they're not thoughts that I really can say publicly" — was aimed more at the coaching staff as a whole. And Reinsdorf planned to talk with Del Negro here Sunday or Monday.
In other words, Reinsdorf doesn't want to have to fire Del Negro both financially and because there's been noticeable improvement in the way the new coach has handled the Bulls. Among those improvements: Not forcing mandatory attendance to Del Negro's Super Bowl party; also, shortening the rotation and giving players more defined roles. The latter sounds about right. The former ... well, if you have to second-guess the notion that you shouldn't force your players to come to your house for a Super Bowl party, you've got some serious first-year coaching issues.
Still, Johnson has some valid points here, most of all the financial reasons. Reinsdorf seems unlikely to be so rash with more wasted money on the line. If things improve, even slightly, Vinny will be OK. But if they devolve ... well, even a prudent guy like Reinsdorf has his limits.