UPDATE: Sam Smith with more from Reinsdorf and D'Antoni.
Kudos to KC for scoring this interview with the chairman:
"The second subject, I said if we need to get something done this weekend we shouldn't even bother talking because it will take longer than that," Reinsdorf said. "He said nothing had to be done over the weekend.
"I also said if this proceeds to where we want to make an offer, we don't deal with coach's agents. He said that's not a problem and that money wasn't the most important thing anyway. He said he wanted a job where he was going to be happiest. He said he didn't want to coach the Knicks."
"The answer is this is a very important decision to make and we didn't want to make the wrong decision. I don't think we moved too slowly. As soon as the Suns gave permission to talk, John was on a plane to meet with him. We did not move slowly here."
Asked why, if D'Antoni was the target, the Bulls didn't make a pre-emptive strike offer before the Knicks, Reinsdorf deferred to the sequence of events.
Reinsdorf said he met with Paxson last Tuesday to review the general manager's two interviews in Phoenix with D'Antoni, as well as other candidates on the Bulls' list. Paxson had flown to Phoenix on May 4, the day Suns general manager Steve Kerr granted D'Antoni permission to interview.
Knowing he would be in Phoenix over last weekend, Reinsdorf said he called D'Antoni last Tuesday and set up the Friday meeting. Reinsdorf said as he left that meeting, he told D'Antoni he would speak to Paxson and talk to D'Antoni again on Saturday.
When Paxson called LeGarie on Saturday morning, the agent informed Paxson that D'Antoni had accepted the Knicks' job. As Paxson attempted to sway LeGarie to listen to the Bulls' offer, Reinsdorf left his Saturday morning message for D'Antoni.
"I never tell the general manager who he has to hire, but I do have veto power," Reinsdorf said. "After meeting with Mike, I told John I was inclined to negotiate a contract and John made it clear he wanted Mike."
Where to begin. First off, the 'we don't deal with coach's agents' edict seems strange. Especially since later there's a mention of Paxson dealing with D'Antoni's agent, in the form of begging him to have his client reconsider taking the Knicks job.
And I admit I don't know how these things usually go...but after two meetings with the GM, shouldn't the meeting with the owner be about contract terms? Why is the result of that Friday meeting Reinsdorf saying he has to again talk to Paxson, and "we'll get back to you"? Seems like they did move too slowly.
And of course: why keep trying to emphasize how much you wanted to hire him if you didn't get him? It makes things sound worse. Reinsdorf correctly shoots down the idea of how much D'Antoni wanted to be the next coach of the Bulls (as the national media has continuously said), with the evidence being this 'rudeness' in not listening to an offer. If he really wanted to be here he'd be here, right? He and Pax should stick with that story, and not the one where they emphasize the pursuit, as it only makes one question the effectiveness. Plus, saying how D'Antoni explicitly said he didn't want to coach the Knicks seems a bit unprofessional, but then again Reinsdorf earlier this season publicly said how one of Deng and Gordon told him they regretted not signing a contract extension...
All that said, there are some encouraging words as well:
Reinsdorf disputed LeGarie's statement that the Bulls seemed hesitant to enter into another multiyear deal after swallowing close to two years and $5 million of Skiles' contract.
"I assumed we'd have to go four years," Reinsdorf said. "We gave Scott Skiles four years. That's kind of the going rate for coaches now. And money isn't an issue. Believe me, we can afford to pay coaches. Even if Skiles hadn't spread his money out (over four years), we can afford to pay top coaches.
"Phil Jackson wasn't a big name, and he turned out to be a great coach," he said.
It's true that this fiasco may turn out to be for the best. But a pleasant mistake is still a screw-up, and worse yet they can't wait to tell us more about it.