Bulls owner speaks out; D'Antoni calls it a 'misunderstanding'
As Mike D'Antoni was set to be introduced as the Knicks' new coach, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune that the former Phoenix Suns coach "misled" him in his talks with Chicago, saying he didn't want to coach the Knicks.
"I'm disappointed in him," Reinsdorf told the Tribune. "I don't know what else we could've done. He chose to go to New York knowing there was a good chance we would make him an offer. If he had really wanted to be in Chicago, he would've waited. Instead, he misled us. It's not the end of the world, but it is somewhat rude."
D'Antoni agreed to take the Knicks job Saturday and was formally introduced as New York's new coach on Tuesday.
"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 told the Tribune.
"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."
D'Antoni, in an interview on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" on Tuesday afternoon, did not necessarily refute Reinsdorf's version of events.
"There might have been a misunderstanding," D'Antoni said. "We talked for three hours and all through . . . the conversation, I didn't quite put it that way; maybe I did. But I do know I was not trying to be rude to anybody and I know Chicago is a great organization . . . Everything was good. I took all that into account."
D'Antoni had met with Reinsdorf for more than two hours on Friday, and had agreed to get back with the Bulls early this week and "get an offer from him."
In remarks to the New York media on Tuesday, D'Antoni described his Friday meeting with Reinsdorf as a "great talk." But instead of waiting, D'Antoni decided to go with the Knicks late Friday, and chose not to approach the Bulls for a counteroffer.
"I didn't want Chicago to go, 'Oh, we'll give you X-amount of money,' " D'Antoni said to New York reporters. "It didn't matter. If I got more or less, it didn't matter. I wanted to be in New York."
The Suns let D'Antoni seek other jobs after losing to San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. He replaces Isiah Thomas, who was fired last month after going 56-108 in two seasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.