Why is Tom Thibodeau Still the Chicago Bulls’ Head Coach?


If Tom Thibodeau is going to be let out of his contract as Chicago Bulls head coach, then how come management hasn’t plugged the plug on Thibs’ tenure yet?

Is potentially firing/trading Tom Thibodeau the best move for the Chicago Bulls moving forward into the 2015-16 season? That’s the big debate of the summer for Chicago’s hoop organization.

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Some argue that letting Thibodeau go would set the organization back and the Bulls would be “starting over” with a new face on the sideline.

Others would say that Thibodeau needs out of Chicago for a fresh start, due to his toxic relationship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

Personally, the latter is where I reside.

Sure, keeping Thibodeau would please the current roster, including the face of the franchise, Derrick Rose, but is it really worth to see the Bulls grind through another injury-filled season due to the large amounts of minutes for the main guys on the roster?

There’s no denying that Thibodeau is one of the best defensive coaches in the game today. Since his arrival in Chicago, the worst season for the Bulls on the defensive end was this season, as they finished 11th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Before this season, the Bulls finished first, first, fifth and second in defensive efficiency during Thibodeau’s previous four seasons in Chicago.

But, defense can only get you so far in terms of getting to that “next level” and slaying the playoff dragon that is LeBron James and whatever roster he’s on in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have had their offensive issues against James and his teams in the postseason, and that was magnified during the Bulls’ Game 6 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers 10 days ago.

So, as strong as Thibodeau’s resume is — NBA Coach of the Year in 2010-11, 48+ wins in every season — he’s still on the hottest seat out of every NBA coach, but yet, is still with the Bulls’ organization.

The question is, why hasn’t the plug been pulled on Thibodeau’s contract?

Long-time Chicago Tribune Bulls writer K.C. Johnson wrote a column this past Saturday morning on why Thibodeau is still with the Bulls at this time.

Johnson took to answering the “why is Tom Thibodeau still here” question by writing,

"Of course, this offseason is anything but business as usual. The frayed relationship between Thibodeau and management is public knowledge throughout the NBA. And management’s annual evaluation process of Thibodeau is believed widely to be leading to a divorce despite the Bulls’ regular-season success and two years remaining on Thibodeau’s contract.So what’s taking so long?This is where the business as usual model applies. Bulls’ management historically has been a deliberate, process-oriented decision-maker, dating to the days of Jerry Krause. There’s no deadline here, and management would be wise to see if the Pelicans or Magic show interest in Thibodeau, who sources said has an offset in his contract."

This is true. The Bulls haven’t been known as an organization with a quick trigger. Need an example? Ridding themselves of Carlos Boozer.

The Bulls’ front office know that they have to hit a home run in this situation. It’s not exactly breaking news that the issues between GarPax and Thibodeau are alive and well.

Here’s where things got a little interesting in Johnson’s column:

"But this delay isn’t some leverage ploy or negotiating tactic. If the Bulls, whose second-round pick coincidentally is headed to the Magic, wanted a second-round pick, they would buy one. This is, after all, a franchise that ponied up $3 million to move up and acquire Luol Deng’s draft rights in 2004 and paid an undisclosed amount to do the same for Nikola Mirotic in 2011.No, this decision is way above getting, say, a second-round pick from the Pelicans or Magic. Especially because sources indicate the Magic’s interest in Thibodeau has been way overstated, if not nonexistent to this point. And Yahoo Sports reported the Pelicans’ interest in Thibodeau lies more with team President Mickey Loomis than general manager Dell Demps, who, the website reported, fired strong-willed coach Monty Williams in part over internal battles."

So, to recap, the two teams that have been rumored to acquire Thibodeau’s services, aren’t exactly head-over-heels for the 57-year-old Thibodeau’s services.

Johnson would continue on by stating,

"The Bulls’ coaching history has featured some wild twists and turns. Who can forget Scott Skiles’ agent saying in June 2005 that “the way (Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf) does business is insulting” as he exasperatedly called off contract talks and then Skiles signing a three-year extension the next day? Or all signs pointing to Doug Collins returning for a second stint as coach until he and Reinsdorf, citing their friendship, nixed it and Vinny Del Negro arrived in 2008?"

The Bulls have entered one of the most important, and most intriguing offseasons in the organization’s 49-year history. Thibodeau’s situation just adds to the fray that is this summer for the Bulls.

Between rumored issues with Rose and backcourt mate Jimmy Butler during Game 6, Butler’s potential new deal, Joakim Noah‘s disappointing 2014-15 season due to health concerns, and the NBA Draft approaching, don’t expect things to stay quiet with the Bulls for too much longer.

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