Come to Think of it...Don't Expect Bulls to Pay Price for D'Antoni

Bob WarjaSenior Writer IMay 9, 2008

Bulls fans deserve a solid head coach with NBA head coaching experience on his resume, especially after what we've had to endure this past season.

But don't get your hopes up that the Bulls will pony up for the best guy out there, Mike D'Antoni. Reinsdorf is too cheap to pay the big money it will take to sign D'Antoni while still owing Scott Skiles $5 million dollars in severance pay.

While the New York Knicks are said to be preparing a $30 million dollar, 5-year package for the current Suns head coach, the Bulls say they will not get into a salary war for his services.

While Avery Johnson would also make a solid head coach choice for the Bulls, there is no guarantee that he wants to coach anywhere next year.  He may decide to take a year off before going back to coaching in the NBA.

That's why D'Antoni is so important for the Bulls.  But, as usual, even though Chicago is a big market town, our sports franchises continue to act like small market clubs. And that means no D'Antoni to the Bulls. 

It's a shame, too, because given roughly equal financial offers, it is clear that he prefers the Bulls to the Knicks. But you can't expect a man to turn away that kind of offer and still look his family in the eye. And don't forget, D'Antoni doesn't have to go anywhere, so he has the leverage here.

Meanwhile, Suns star Steve Nash says he expects D'Antoni to return as Suns coach. That seems more and more unlikely as the offers flow in. The Suns wouldn't have granted other clubs the permission to speak to him if there wasn't some disconnect between the team and its head coach.

D’Antoni, who has two years worth $8.5 million remaining on his contract, has led the Suns to three Pacific Division titles and two trips to the Western Conference finals in his four full seasons as coach. He has compiled a 232-96 record, including 55-27 last season. But Phoenix has lost three times in the playoffs to San Antonio, including dropping a first-round series in five games to the Spurs this year.

And while it's true that even Red Auerbach in his prime probably couldn't win a title with these Bulls, at least D'Antoni would give the club instant respect and a winning attitude. More importantly, it would send a signal to the basketball world that the Bulls are serious about winning at all costs.

Alas, we're probably looking at an assistant coach taking over the helm at a reduced cost. But know this: Bulls GM John Paxson better turn this ship around or else he will have nowhere else to hide.

Come to think of it, he may have to fire himself next.