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Reinsdorf's regrets are few following free-agent chase
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf says he believes Chris Bosh and LeBron James gave serious consideration to joining the Bulls, but Wade's heart was in Miami.


Associated Press

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Published: 7/14/2010 3:50 PM

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On the heels of the greatest free-agent recruiting flurry in NBA history, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has just one regret.

"I regret the fact that we lost Kirk (Hinrich)," Reinsdorf said in a phone interview. "But if we hadn't moved Kirk, we couldn't have been a player."

In the race to free up cap room to spend on free agents, the Bulls sent Hinrich and first-round draft pick Kevin Seraphin to Washington in exchange for the rights to obscure Belarus power forward Vladimir Veremeenko.

After chasing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others, the Bulls were able to sign former Utah forward Carlos Boozer, while James, Wade and Bosh joined forces in Miami. The Bulls also signed ex-Jazz sharpshooter Kyle Korver and have an offer sheet pending with Orlando restricted free agent J.J. Redick.

"It was clear LeBron wasn't going to come (to the Bulls) by himself," Reinsdorf said. "Somebody else had to come with him so we had to take that shot. It didn't work out, so now I feel bad that Kirk is gone, but I don't regret taking the shot."

Reinsdorf didn't want to comment on James' often-criticized television special announcing his decision. But he took the alignment of the three stars in stride.

"Those three guys apparently had a dream where they wanted to play together and it's their privilege to do it," Reinsdorf said. "I don't side with the people who are critical of them for getting together. I think it was clearly their privilege to do it and I don't think there was any obligation on LeBron's part or Chris Bosh's part to stay where they were."

Now a popular topic of debate is whether Miami's power trio was sincere in considering the Bulls. Some suspect those meetings were merely a charade to hide the fact that the players agreed to team up long before free-agency began on July 1.

Reinsdorf felt the intentions of James and Bosh were honest.

"I don't think they would have wasted their time," he said. "I think Wade, in his own mind, was going to go back to Miami unless he heard something that made him change his mind. But I think LeBron and Chris were definitely open-minded.

"I think if we could have cleared space for three of them, we might have gotten them all. We just couldn't clear the space."

Still, Reinsdorf isn't ready to concede anything to the Heat. If the Bulls can find a decent rotation at shooting guard, they should be ready to step forward next season with the addition of Boozer.

"I believe we will be better than Miami this year," Reinsdorf said. "I think with Derrick (Rose), Joakim (Noah), Lu (Deng) and Boozer, we've got four really good front-line players.

"I know Gar (Forman) and John (Paxson) will fill in at the shooting guard position and I think we're going to have depth with Taj (Gibson) and James Johnson and we're working on some other stuff. I think we're going to be pretty good this year."

This was an unusual process for the Bulls. Not since the Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady summer of 2000 have the Bulls worked so hard to pursue free agents. Reinsdorf didn't attend the meeting that lured Ben Wallace in 2006.

The free-agent chase of 2000 is best remembered for pep rallies at the airport and the biggest stars all snubbing the Bulls.

"Last time reminded me more of a fraternity rush," Reinsdorf said. "That year was more like show business. Orlando had a Disney parade, I think, for Tim Duncan. There was not a lot of substance to the recruiting at that time.

"This time, we had some really good presentations and we explained to each free agent why, from a basketball standpoint, he should play here and why from a business standpoint he should play here. We had a very sophisticated presentation on how much money they could make off the court and how they could go about doing it.

"Then there were really great basketball discussions between (coach Tom) Thibodeau and each of the players. They really got in depth as far as how he wants the Bulls to play and how each one of these guys fit into what we were going to be doing."

The Bulls can only hope Thibodeau didn't give up any strategies that will help James, Wade and Bosh in Miami.

While Reinsdorf didn't go overboard like Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert promising the Cavs will win a title before James, he did set the bar high for next season.