PHOENIX – Jerry Reinsdorf will never change.
We’re at the part of the movie where that’s clear.
The chairman of the Bulls and White Sox decided long ago to operate in the petty, especially in how he deals with the Chicago media. That’s his choice, and his success in life has certainly earned him that right.
While other owners of major-market teams such as the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban have understood trying to use the media for the benefit of their product, Chicago’s media to Reinsdorf is a dirty piece of gum that he takes enjoyment scraping off his shoe.
It doesn’t matter to Reinsdorf that it’s a disservice to his fans, but his latest move was a complete disservice to Bulls coach Billy Donovan.
First, it’s important to note that all major decisions in either organization must get Reinsdorf’s thumbs up or down. Son Michael has been given a huge amount of power in Bulls business, but even Michael admitted several years ago that his father had final say.
Second, the news that leaked Tuesday that Donovan’s contract was secretly extended in the preseason barely registers on the Richter scale, especially with how in sync executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and Donovan remain since joining forces in 2020.
It was a bigger deal when Reinsdorf hid the news about then-White Sox manager Rick Renteria’s contract extension in 2017.
Unlike Renteria, Donovan was a made man since Day 1, just based on his resume — college and pro — and nothing was changing on that front with the 2022-23 season underway.
So why let it sit in the shadows?
Why not come out during fall camp in September and capture the news cycle by celebrating the decision to keep Donovan beyond next season when his original four-year deal was set to expire?
It’s not like Jerry Reinsdorf has been bashful in the releasing-statement department.
He did so earlier Tuesday, doing his best to say farewell to slugger Jose Abreu, while still trying to save face that an offer was made by the Sox to keep the fan-favorite.
Reinsdorf had no problem releasing a statement on the day Tom Thibodeau was fired in 2015, trying to portray the former Bulls coach in a bad light — knowing Thibodeau couldn’t fire back publicly if he wanted to collect the remaining $9 million still owed on his deal.
But with Donovan’s extension, there was no face to save. No bad light to shine on anyone.
There was a message about “continuity” from the organization with every roster move made last summer, and the chance to put a nice bow on it by also stressing “continuity” with the coaching staff.
A chance now missed.
As for Donovan, he enters Wednesday’s game against the Suns with an 86-88 (.494) record since joining the Bulls, after going 243-157 (.608) with Oklahoma City. He also led the Bulls to their first playoff appearance since 2017 last season, before losing in the first round to the Milwaukee Bucks.
For his part, Donovan did not seek out the extension before this season.
“Very, very humbled,” Donovan said of the extension getting done. “Very appreciative, grateful. Arturas came to me over the summer to talk about it. We had that conversation. For me, it’s really important who I’m working with, who I’m working for. Love the relationships inside the organization.
“I don’t want to use words like alignment, but I think we’re all on the same page as we see things.”
All on the same page except one. And unfortunately, he owns the page, the book, the whole damn library.