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Bulls and Thibodeau Reach Deal

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 7, 2010 2:00PM

While his hiring won't be officially announced until after the conclusion of the NBA FInals, the Bulls and Celtics assistant head coach Tom Thibodeau have reached a deal for him to become the Bulls next head coach, with a three year deal worth approximately $6.5 million. Perhaps Thibodeau does not have the head coaching experience many thought the Bulls desired, but he has been an NBA assistant for 18 years with seven teams (the past three with the Celtics), and plenty of experience coaching in the playoffs. Back when the Bulls hired Vinny Del Negro in 2008 Thibodeau's name regularly came up in discussions, and we thought Bulls management was foolish for not waiting to interview Thibodeau before making their decision. With the Celtics winning the NBA title that season, the Bulls chose to hire VDN before the playoffs ended rather than wait to interview the guy that was perhaps the best available candidate. Better late than never, the Bulls finally had a chance to interview Thibodeau this time around and decided to hire him after that meeting.

Considered a defensive specialist, teams Thibodeau has coached have finished in the NBA's top 10 defensively 15 times in 18 years. Surprisingly, it was Thibodeau's offensive ideas helped win over the Bulls executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman -- though it's not too hard to develop a more interesting offensive game plan than Del Negro. Thibodeau is considered a player's coach, one players respect because of his work ethic and their ability to trust him. Given the Bulls players' reactions to known hard ass Scott Skiles and pushover Del Negro, perhaps Thibodeau's demeanor is the happy medium the Bulls' roster can succeed with.

For those conspiracy theorists who believe the Bulls selection of coach will somehow impact LeBron James' decision this summer, Thibodeau is represented by William "Uncle Wes" Wesley at Creative Artists Agency. James considers "Uncle Wes" to be a mentor of his, and his agent Leon Rose, also works for CAA. ESPN's Bill Simmons even manages to tie these fortuitous connections to Arne Duncan and Obama as evidence of James' signing with the Bulls. Maybe that's taking the conspiracy a bit too far, but perhaps it lends credence to rumors that Thibodeau's signing with the Bulls will positively impact the Bulls chances of landing LeBron.