Reinsdorf: Bulls 'an organization failure'
Their milestone victory Friday night wasn't a statement from the Chicago Bulls on their season.
That came much earlier.
The Bulls won at Sacramento for the first time in 12 years but remained stalled in the Central Division, 17 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers at 20-27.
But Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had already turned up the rhetoric.
"You want the grade up 'til today?" Reinsdorf asked in a TV interview Friday morning. "What's the lowest grade you can give? This has been a disaster. It's embarrassing. But it will get better."
Rookie coach Vinny Del Negro took the barb in full stride hours before the 109-88 rout of the Kings.
"Managing expectations is the hardest thing in this business," Del Negro said. "They didn't win 60 games last year. They didn't have a rookie point guard. They didn't have the injuries we've had."
Del Negro said he had no qualms with Reinsdorf or general manager John Paxson.
"Great. No problems," Del Negro said after the Bulls' afternoon shootaround. "Very open. Very professional. Totally fine."
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In an interview with Comcast SportsNet's "Monsters in the Morning" show in Chicago, Reinsdorf had expressed confidence in Paxson's ability to right the ship, but he stopped short of granting Del Negro the same vote of optimism, saying the GM "is not going to let this situation continue."
"When you have a team that's not performing it's an organization failure," Reinsdorf said. "You win and you lose as an organization. But if there's one person that is not responsible for what's going on right now, it's John Paxson.
"I have tremendous confidence in John Paxson," he added. "He's really one of the best people that I know. He's a great general manager and a great judge of talent. I just worry that he not be too hard on himself. He takes all of this very, very seriously."
The Bulls face the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday night, their fourth game of a seven-game road trip.
"That's just Jerry trying to motivate and get guys going," Del Negro said. "Jerry wants to win just like every owner and every coach. It's not easy.
"Managing expectations is very easy to talk about it but hard to do. And it takes time. Some people are more patient than others."
They were mailing it in, and I felt like standing up and booing along with everybody else. They're not mailing it in anymore.” -- Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf
Reinsdorf wouldn't elaborate on how he thought the Bulls would go about moving forward.
"I have a lot of thoughts about that but they're not thoughts that I really can say publicly," Reinsdorf said. "All I know is what we have right now is not good and we have to get it better."
Reinsdorf said the Bulls have been playing resurgent basketball for the past "half-dozen" games, despite having lost five of six entering Friday.
"They were mailing it in, and I felt like standing up and booing along with everybody else," Reinsdorf said. "They're not mailing it in anymore."
Reinsdorf seemed to pin his on-court hopes on the Bulls' latest "great player," Derrick Rose.
"When I first got involved with the Bulls, we had one great player," Reinsdorf said, referring to Michael Jordan. "When we won our first championship, he was the only player left from the original team.
"We will build around Derrick Rose. Every player that's added to this team will be a player who can feed off of him. This is not going to take changing 11 players. We do have some pretty good players on this club. Obviously what we lack is an inside presence. That's the biggest thing we are missing and somehow we have to find it."