Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau easily could be called the best defensive coach in all of basketball. However, is that title enough to keep him on the Bulls sidelines? We’ve seen this process all before; where a coach and the front office doesn’t click and the coach is sent packing. Just dating back to the beginning of this offseason, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson was fired after going 121-109 in 3 seasons. Although Mark Jackson wasn’t the best defensive coach in the league, there was clearly tension between him and the front office. It’s hard to find coaching names who won 50+ games and got released before the following season. Another name is Lionel Hollins; he got the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals, just two years ago and they deemed that wasn’t greatest enough to keep him. Really?
The reason that I bring this up is because the Bulls are suffering from the same issue. During last season, there was some public tension between the Thibodeau and the front office really over the Luol Deng trade. Deng was traded last season to attempt to keep the Bulls out of the luxury tax, after he turned down a 3-year/30 million dollar offer from Chicago. With Deng being so good defensively, obviously it got his head coach slightly worked up. Thibodeau thought the Bulls were being cheap and attempting to tank since Derrick Rose was out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. Of course with all the tension that was building, Tom’s name started to appear in trade rumors.
Most coaches will go through this process of getting your name dropped in a rumor, that you will be traded or fired, throughout their careers. However, the fact that the Bulls would actually think of moving Tom Thibodeau, just seemed shocking. In his 4-year coaching experience with the team, his record 205-107. On top of that Thibodeau has been coach of the year and was the fastest coach ever to 100-victories. Even if in Chicago most fans like Thibodeau, it doesn’t mean his job is safe, but shouldn’t it be?
I did some research to see just how good of a coach Tom Thibodeau exactly is, despite his reputation to run guys into the ground. The coach that Tom replaced was Vinny Del Negro and he had back-to-back 41-41 seasons with the Bulls, before being let go. Tom came in the following year and lead the Bulls to 62 wins! What? 62 wins in a season for a rookie head coach is simply unheard of. What has lead to all that success? It’s the defense and what they are giving up point wise each game. Here is the difference between Thibodeau’s and Del Negro’s seasons with the Bulls defensively:
Tom Thibodeau has yet to finish outside the top-3 of defensive ranks. Which is extremely impressive however another reason his seat is getting warm is because the Bulls have had nothing to show offensively. Some people will say, yeah but Derrick Rose was out, but actually the Bulls weren’t that great offensively even when he was 100%. This is where the Bulls ranked offensively over Thibodeau’s first four seasons with the team:
So the question, is Thibodeau the right man for the Chicago Bulls? At first, my answer was no. I like Thibodeau, think he is one of the top-3 coaches in the league but Chicago really has to figure out how to score. Then after doing this research, I am still on board with Thibodeau. I am not going to be mad if we keep him, because like I said he’s a top-3 coach in the league, but if I was to have any other coach i’d go with Fred Hoiberg. If you tell me the Bulls can get multiple picks for Thibodeau, and can lock down Hoiberg, then without a doubt i’d be ready to move Tom. But until then, Tom is going to be the Bulls coach. Even if the “run guys into the ground” thing is true, the Bulls are going to ride and die with coach Thibodeau. He is really doing a fantastic job, the rumors are crazy.