Michael Reinsdorf isn’t tone deaf.
The Bulls’ president and chief operating officer knows the current perception of his organization nationally and locally, but rather than react to that noise – agreeing or disagreeing – Reinsdorf feels he has been able to step back and see the big picture.
So when he was asked about the state of the Bulls rebuild, he told the Sun-Times on Monday: “I think we’re actually in really good shape. I look at the history of the NBA, and you look at teams that have gone through rebuilds similar to us. I think you’ll have a hard time finding teams that before Year 2 of the rebuild is over have a core like we have.’’
What does that mean?
Well, the idea that coach Jim Boylen is a short-term replacement that won’t last beyond this season? Not true.
General manager Gar Forman or vice president of basketball operations John Paxson somehow being close to being fired? Not happening.
Reinsdorf not only likes the current makeup of his core players, but made it clear he also backs the front office and coaching staff.
“I’ve taken a few road trips so I’ve kind of seen how Jim has interacted with the team, collectively and also individually,’’ Reinsdorf said. “He really cares and I think he in some ways really wants to be a teacher. It’s interesting because people think he’s a hard-nosed coach and it’s not that he’s a hard-nosed coach, he’s a coach that likes to hold players accountable. But he does it in a way where he’ll put his arm around a player and explain to him that what he’s trying to get out of the player is to make him better.’’
Reinsdorf acknowledged that when Boylen initially replaced a fired Fred Hoiberg on Dec. 3, it wasn’t the smoothest transition. There was a 56-point loss to the Celtics, an attempted two-player mutiny, team meetings, suicide sprints in practice and some bruised feelings.
Reinsdorf believes critics grabbed onto that rough start and haven’t let go when judging Boylen.
“If they spent some time around the team and Jim,” Reinsdorf said, “they would see it differently.”
It doesn’t hurt that Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen have been playing some of the best basketball of their careers during the last month, and Reinsdorf credited Boylen and the coaching staff for much of that.
That’s why the idea that Boylen is just a lease is inaccurate.
“Yeah, nothing has changed as far as what John Paxson indicated to the media before,’’ Reinsdorf said. “We’re still very supportive of the job Jim has done.’’
Reinsdorf also reiterated his stance on Paxson and Forman.
Reinsdorf was adamant in disputing the idea that Paxson is on his “fourth or fifth rebuild’’ attempt since taking a front office job in 2003. The way Reinsdorf sees it, there was the process that got them to the Derrick Rose rebuild, and now the current rebuild.
“People think the Reinsdorfs – my dad [Jerry] and myself – that’s it’s just about loyalty,’’ Reinsdorf said. “It’s not about loyalty for us. It’s about we believe we have the right people in place, so that’s what I would say about John.’’
As for Forman, Reinsdorf pointed out that the GM’s job is dealing with agents, initiating trades and overseeing the draft. His feels Forman has performed well on all three fronts, especially the draft.
“Our fans … want a championship and so do we,” Reinsdorf said. “It’s a process, it takes time, we have to be patient, but I understand that patience is a difficult thing to ask. I think we’re through the hard part with these first two years of this rebuild.’’