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LeBron in Chicago: The Jerry Reinsdorf question

Jun 28, 2010, 11:17 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for bulls_logo.gifLeBron to Chicago, with Chris Bosh. Teamed with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. A force in the NBA for the next decade.

That is unquestionably how it is going down, right? Except, there are a few questions.

Starting with: Would Bulls onwer Jerry Reinsdorf be willing to pay the price for it? Does LeBron James want to trust the man who broke up the dynasty Bulls because of cost?

Short term it’s not so bad. These first two years, with Rose and Noah under their rookie deals, the entire foursome (James, Bosh, Rose and Noah) would cost the Bulls in the $42 million range. Keep Luol Deng on the team and it is more like $53 million for five players (which it is likely Deng goes out on a sign-and-trade),

That price tag will climb fast. Noah will start a new deal in two years and likely be paid in the $8 million range, if not by Chicago then by someone else.

Then will come the Rose deal one year after Noah. Likely a max or near max deal.

That will mean $58 million or more tied up in four players (depending on the salaries and raises). That would be above the salary cap next year. For four players. To fill out the roster with some decent role players so they can win will mean much more. The Lakers roster last season was $91 million, meaning basically a $24 million luxury tax payment on top of it. The Bulls could easily be in that ballpark and under the new CBA the taxes could be higher.

Will the notoriously frugal Reinsdorf pay that? This is the man that said he “knew he would regret” signing Michael Jordan to his last big contract. A man willing to break up a legendary sports dynasty because it was too expensive.

Is he willing to pay to keep LeBron James surrounded with winning talent? Because for all the problems with the Knicks offer, their willingness to spend is not a question.

  1. banner18 - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Jerry Reinsdorf is loyal to himself and his own finances. He would inevitably have to pay oodles in luxury taxes with such a team.
    Dwyane Wade said it when he pointed out that the Bulls show no loyalty to their past greats. This is what sets the Bulls apart from truly great organizations like the Lakers and the Celtics. If D-Wade is thinking along these lines, I am sure LeBron feels the same way.
    In the end, I am confident that LeBron James will still be a Cleveland Cavalier. And his time will come. Perhaps in 2011.

  2. Dirk Simmons - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Geesh…You guys never give it a rest, do you? If you did any research on this question at all, you would know Reinsdorf has gone on record saying, “I wouldn’t mind paying the tax if it’s an intelligent expenditure.” You insult his intelligence (and everyone else’s) by questioning whether he would ever pay for a championship-caliber team. It makes me sick. Reinsdorf is the greatest owner in Chicago. I sincerely wished he owned every team. We are one of the most valuable franchises in the NBA and year after year we are the most profitable team in league. I think Jerry knows what he’s doing.

  3. sheeeeeeesh - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    The Bulls are so unloyal to their greats that they:
    * Signed MJ to one-year $30+ million dollar contracts two straight years, STILL a pro sports record for one-year payouts.
    * Instead of letting Pippen walk, engineered a sign-and-trade, sending him to Houston for a player that was cut three days later. This enabled Pippen to accumulate $30 million more then he would if he had signed outright.
    * Paid Phil Jackson a then-record amount for a head coach two straight years.
    * Hired former player John Paxson to run the team.
    *Have two former players–Pete Meyers and Randy Brown–on the coaching staff. And have kept them there despite coaching changes.
    *Had Johnny “Red” Kerr on the mike for Bulls games up until his passing.
    *Had Norm Van Lier doing commentary on television until his passing.
    *Currently have Bill Wennington hired as color commentator on their flagship radio station.
    * Paid Jay Williams the ENTIRETY of his contract, despite the fact he violated it. He was still being paid his Bulls salary after two years of being out of basketball.
    * Resigned Pippen so he could retire as a Bull, despite knowing his knees rendered him INCAPABLE of playing basketball, let alone standing.
    * As recently as last month, were paying the hospital bills of former Bull Bob Love, who is broke.
    * Tried to save Eddy Curry’s life.
    *There is a damn statue of Jordan outside of the stadium.
    If you ask me, loyalty is a uselesss word in pro sports. The owners wantsa to make money, so do the players. Period. It’s a business. But if anything, the Bulls as an organization have demonstrated that they are TOO loyal. You’ll also notice that two days after Wade made his statement, he came to his senses and retracted the statement.

  4. Jabberwocky - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    @banner18- excellent synapse of the Bulls history of not caring or paying their players and former players. Wade didn’t know what he was talking about, because ultimately he wanted to undermind Chicago’s chances of landing a bigtime free-agent. We’ll find out in a few days whether it worked or not.

  5. lucas - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    DROSE dont LeBron but bosh yes.

  6. Rock.... - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Yeah…what Wade said was a trick to try and get James to sign with the Heat.You have to understand that just about a year ago everyone in Chicago was salivating at the fact that Wade might be coming home.How do you think he felt when everyone forgot about him and all of that love was transferred to Lebron. He pictured himself in a Bulls uniform with maybe a Chris Bosh. Now that dream has all but vanished from the thoughts of Chicagoans;me included.On top of that he has to envision the tandem of a Lebron and Rose giving the eastern conference teams trouble on a constant basis. I would have reached for the same straw that Wade reached for under those circumstances. The eastern division can hang it up.Rose;James;Bosh;Noah.It hardly seems fair. That is not fair at all!

  7. Mattchew - Jun 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    There is a lot more to the Dynasty breakup than people realize. First Jordan retired and any thought of him coming back was killed when he cut a tendon in his finger while opening a bottle of champagne during the celebrations. Once there was no prospect of Jordan coming back Phil wanted out. So Phil left Rodman, Longley and Harper expired and Pippen was traded away. Kukoc played one more year for us and left and Krause screwed up our rebuilding process. The only knock I have on Reinsdorf is that he has refused to pay the tax the last 10 years but would do it if we were a contender. He also said he would give up all the Bulls championships for his one and done White Sox World Series. Considering the way they are cleaning out cap room they are going to go on another run and will pay the tax to keep Noah and Rose when the time comes. Lebron grew up watching the Bulls it means more to him to play here than it does in New York. Bosh would love to play with Noah too cause he hates playing center. GO BULLS! Read it and weep New York.

  8. longlunch - Jun 28, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    Another writer not doing his homework. Phil Jackson resigned….then Michael retired. The Bulls had already determined Rodman would not be invited back. So then Scottie Pippen announced he was not coming back. What was to breakup after that? Check the facts and the chronology of the “breakup”.

  9. DROCKERY - Jun 28, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    You also have to look at Jerry Reinsdorf’s other team, the White Sox. Their GM, Kenny Williams, is constantly making trades at the deadline. He is willing to win. He re-signed Mark Buerhle to a big contract while aging. Jermaine Dye came back and got paid. Reinsdorf pays players who produce.
    The Bulls run was just over in the 1990s. We all like to blame the Jerry’s but that team barely beat Indiana and Utah. It was the last dance, as coach Jackson said. It was just time. Why would Jerry Reinsdorf give up the HUGE cash flow of having a championship winning team? Especially after paying big, big bucks to reward Michael and Phil and keep them for the rest of the championships.
    Jerry Reinsdorf is a great owner. He wins in baseball and basketball. He is not afraid to have his organization make gutsy moves. See Dennis Rodman and Albert Bell. The guy is a winner.
    Reinsdorf and the Bulls organization will give Lebron and Bosh a no-nonsense atmosphere. No Mark Cuban jumping around and recklessly shaking up the roster every year. He will have a reliable organization. He will also have a reliable point guard to get him the ball.

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