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NBA REPORT

Nba Finals

June 11, 1996|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

How Much to Keep the Bulls Intact?

Coach Phil Jackson? About to become a free agent.

Dennis Rodman? About to become a big-money free agent.

Michael Jordan? About to become the biggest-money free agent.

And you thought the payoff for the Chicago Bulls' record-breaking season might be coming Wednesday night, when they could complete the sweep of the Seattle SuperSonics and win a fourth NBA title in six years.

When his successful coach and the two most popular players all hit the open market at the same time this summer, the bank account of owner Jerry Reinsdorf will show exactly how the SuperSonics have felt the last week or so. The flip side, of course, is that Jordan and Jackson helped to build it to where some third-world countries could live off the interest alone.

"Jerry and I have already discussed that and we're going to spend time doing it," said Jerry Krause, the Bulls' vice president of basketball operations.

That's not all they're going to spend.

Reinsdorf, having accepted as much, and decided that Rodman is desirable in the long run, can at least try and have fun with it.

"The single most important thing I have to do this summer is get the White Sox to the World Series," he said of his other ownership interest.

"With the Bulls, we have to get some players and a coach re-signed. Right now, I've enjoyed the season very much. I'd like to enjoy Wednesday night. If I don't enjoy Wednesday night, I want to enjoy Friday or Sunday or Wednesday. We need one more win. Unless and until we get that fourth win, nothing else is on the front burner."

Said Krause: "We'll do some bits-and-pieces changing, but we want to keep the core of this team together."

*

It could have been a slip, but Jordan praised Krause on Monday, a definite policy change. In years past, Jordan used first names in reference to coaches and teammates, but talked of the Bulls' top basketball man in the front office by last name only, at least when the reference wasn't to "Crumbs" or something worse. Scottie Pippen went so far last season as to say, "Trade Krause or me."

So now that the Bulls have broken the record for regular-season victories and are on the verge of another championship, Jordan was asked if Krause deserves any credit.

"That's a tough question," Jordan said.

Long pause.

"He did pull the trigger on some moves, either out of the pressure he had from Phil or myself or other influences within the city." Jordan finally conceded. "As sadly as I might be to say it, you have to give him some credit. I'm pretty sure he's deserving of some."

Reinsdorf for the defense:

"Over the years, people have taken shots at him, but I look at this team and I see an artistic performance by Jerry Krause. We have guys on this team nobody wanted, when you think about it. Who wanted [Bill] Wennington? Who wanted [Steve] Kerr? Who wanted [Jud] Buechler? Nobody wanted to take a chance on Dennis. We only have two players from the 1993 team that are on this team.

"There are so many people that are entitled to credit here, but if you had to say who gets the most credit, to me it's Jerry Krause."

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