Late for games, tardy for practice, not on the bench when he's called upon to play. It seems Dennis Rodman has returned to his old ways.
"He doesn't like his money. We take it from him and find ways to give it back to him," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said of Rodman's mounting fines.Jackson may have a solution to Rodman's latest wanderings. He's thinking about putting him back in the starting lineup for Saturday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers.
"I gave a lot of thought to it for Tuesday night's game and didn't," Jackson said Thursday. "I'm considering the fact of the road, the intensity, the foul situation, the quickness. He has to come off the bench and get involved. We want to get our best defensive foot forward."
Rodman missed a practice last week when he came late after a lengthy birthday celebration and then didn't show up at either of the first two games until about an hour before tipoff - 30 minutes late.
He was replaced in the starting lineup by Toni Kukoc in both games, although Jackson said bringing Rodman off the bench was not punitive but a strategy to counteract Indiana's Antonio Davis.
Out of the lineup, Rodman returned to the locker room to stay loose and work out. But when substitution patterns changed earlier than expected and Jackson looked down the bench to send Rodman into the game, the seven-time rebounding champion with multicolored hair and tattoos wasn't there.
The scene was replayed to start the second half.
Both times an irritated Jackson quickly dispatched an assistant trainer to fetch Rodman so he could go into the game. After Game 2, Michael Jordan criticized Rodman, saying he was just trying to draw attention to himself.
Now with the Bulls leading 2-0, the series shifts to Market Square Arena.
"Dennis doesn't have a place to hide in Indiana," Jackson said. "We don't have a stationary bike or a stair master or something he can stay loose. He may be running up and down in the back of the hallway, but I can just lasso him from there."
Or start him.
Jackson had been as flexible as any coach could be with Rodman, often excusing his behavioral blips.
"I think Dennis has had to compromise his principles more than I have had to compromise mine," Jackson said.
With his tongue-in-cheek Jackson added: "Dennis has given up his whole life - wrestling, movies, MTV. Think of the things he's had to give up to play basketball."
Jackson admitted that Rodman comes late to nearly every game and is tardy 80 percent of the time for practices, even though he lives close to the Bulls' training facility.
But guard Ron Harper had a different message Thursday: Leave Rodman alone.
"Dennis is fine, he don't have no problem with anybody. He was late to a game. He's late to every game. Who cares?" Harper said.
"We know Dennis as a team and the guys let him do what he wants to do as long as he steps on the basketball court and plays basketball."
Jackson said he didn't meet one-on-one with Rodman, but there was a team discussion of how best to use him. He added there is nothing wrong with a player who is not starting to go back to the locker room and ride an exercise bike.