Bulls COO and team president Michael Reinsdorf is rarely one to make public statements, but Friday afternoon he stated he’s pleased with the state of the Bulls rebuild to date.
With a 2-8 record following Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls own the third-worst mark in the NBA behind Atlanta and Dallas—which some would argue is right where the franchise wants itself to be.
Reinsdorf spoke at the United Center earlier in the afternoon, part of the NBA’s announcement that Chicago would be hosting NBA All-Star Weekend in 2020.
“The rebuild so far, I’m not normally the spokesperson on basketball stuff like that,” he cautioned. “We’re only a few weeks in. Lauri’s (Markkanen) playing really well. So far we’re happy. When Zach (LaVine) comes back, that’s going to be a big indication. Kris (Dunn) just came back from an injury.”
Of course, Markkanen and LaVine were the big pieces from the draft-night trade of Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves that jump-started this process. LaVine is a couple weeks away from practicing with contact after his ACL surgery last February.
Dunn is attempting to find his way after a preseason injury cost him two weeks of playing time and development.
Markkanen, especially in the aftermath of the Nikola Mirotic-Bobby Portis altercation last month, has stepped forward and established himself as one of the NBA’s top rookies.
“We have to see, but right now, we’re happy. The team is playing really hard. Fred’s got them playing really hard,” Reinsdorf said.
It was a public endorsement of sorts of Hoiberg, who’s had to endure questions seemingly every week since being named head coach two years ago, and then had to deal with the Portis-Mirotic mess.
The Bulls have only been blown out of one game this season, a home date against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and one would think Reinsdorf is pleased with at least the effort the team is putting out.
“It’s not going unnoticed,” Reinsdorf said. “There’s certain sports writers in this city that have written actually positive articles about the way the team is playing right now. I can look to the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times, hopefully the fans will start to take notice.”
Hoiberg said he keeps in regular contact with Reinsdorf but seemed to take the compliment in stride.
“The one thing our staff is focused on is playing better,” he said.
Reinsdorf pointed to the rebuilds of other franchises in town in the hopes fans will be more accepting of what the Bulls are embarking on.
“Because we know this isn’t necessarily about wins and losses this year, but we do want to make sure the team and the players are trying their hardest to win games and giving their best effort,” Reinsdorf said. “Because that’s kind of the mentality the city of Chicago has and the fans – work hard and let’s see what happens. As far as the rebuild, the Cubs did a great job with their rebuild, the White Sox are in the midst of their rebuild, and I think the fans understand that’s kind of the nature of sports.”