Bulls Can Tom Thibodeau
By Jim Bochnowski in News on May 28, 2015 6:30PM
After a contentious five-year relationship with the team's front office, the Chicago Bulls finally fired head coach Tom Thibodeau on Thursday.
First, the good: Thibodeau was a wildly successful head coach in the regular season. Under his tutelage, the Bulls managed to win 64% of their games. Role players like Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler blossomed under Thibs, making several first team all defensive teams. And given his reputation as a defensive mastermind, it should come as no surprise that the Bulls consistently ranked among the top defensive teams in the NBA.
But a series of disappointing playoff results ultimately doomed his time in Chicago. The Bulls never cracked into the NBA finals, while watching perennial foe Lebron James go to five straight championship rounds. Lots of those struggles, of course, were a direct result of Thibodeau's best player, Derrick Rose, wrecking his knees over and over again, while never fully recovering the explosiveness that made him a special player.
Thibodeau was a notorious workaholic, staying at the Bulls practice facility late at night (there were reports that he asked the Bulls to install a shower in his office in the brand-new facility by the United Center) and living in a downtown hotel so there would be fewer distractions.
He pushed his players just as hard as he pushed himself. Jimmy Butler, despite the fact that he missed 17 games, managed to lead the league in minutes played. This grew into persistent rumors about exhaustion among the team, and likely led to players actively campaigning for him not to return next year. The offense was also a consistent question mark, which came to a head during this year's playoffs, where offensive possessions tended to turn into four guys watching Derrick Rose try to get to the basket.
There were also a number of whispers about his relationship with the front office, which can be read loud and clear in Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's statement about the firing.
Here's a key passage: "The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone's ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private....When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture."
Now, for one, it seems silly to talk about keeping "turf wars" private when you publicly roast your recently departed coach in an incredibly public setting. Reportedly, a great deal of this internal strife came from requests of Gar Forman and John Paxson, the Bulls' odd two-headed General Manager and VP, respectively, to place minutes restrictions on star players such as Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, restrictions Thibs steadfastly refused to acknowledge. But Thibs had legitimate gripes, too, like how the Bulls allowed good players like Kyle Korver and Omer Asik to leave the team and get nothing in return.
Strife between the front office and coaching staff isn't anything new for those of us who follow teams owned by Jerry Reinsdorf. Former Bulls' leads Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause hated each other. White Sox honchos Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen did, too!
So who's next to lead the Bulls to hopeful glory? Lots of rumors are swirling around the Internet that say current Iowa State head coach, and former Chicago Bulls guard, Fred Hoiberg is the favorite to take over for Thibodeau. But if the organization can't convince everyone to get along, it might not matter.