After a Friday meeting with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Mike D'Antoni has decided Saturday to take what is a reported four-year, $24 million deal to become the next head coach of the New York Knicks.
Both SI.com and the New York Post reported that D'Antoni has accepted the offer.
Sources confirmed to the Sun-Times that Reinsdorf and D'Antoni met Friday and that the Bulls were not ready to offer a formal contract to the former Phoenix Suns coach.
The Suns are no longer obligated to pay D'Antoni the $8.5 million for the two years left on his contract.
Bulls general manager John Paxson first interviewed D'Antoni, known for his offense-first style, last weekend. Paxson made it clear to D'Antoni he was going to continue to interview other candidates and had no timetable to make a decision. Knicks president Donnie Walsh moved quickly to put together a lucrative offer Thursday for D'Antoni after the two met earlier in the week in Phoenix.
D'Antoni was said to prefer the Bulls job and saw the younger talent on the team's roster as a better fit for his fast-break style of play. Obviously he and Reinsdorf, who still prefers a defensive-minded coach, did not find a way to make the situation work. The Bulls are not expected to pay more than $5 million per year to their new coach.
D'Antoni's hiring comes after much speculation in New York that Mark Jackson was the front-runner to land the Knicks job. Paxson has also interviewed Jackson, who has no coaching experience.
A source close to Avery Johnson’s situation said Paxson had to postpone an interview scheduled with Johnson, recently fired as coach of the Dallas Mavericks, due to a conflict. The Bulls have shown a willingness to reschedule but there is a sense that Johnson is serious about sitting out next season and collecting money from the Mavs, who would owe $12 million over the next three seasons if Johnson decides not to return to coaching. Johnson may also be waiting to see if the Atlanta Hawks will be in the market for a head coach once they hire a new general manager.
Tom Thibodeau, Boston Celtics assistant, could also be interviewed by Paxson if a D'Antoni deal is not done soon.