If the Bulls are going to go through a rebuild, they can’t afford to limit the changes to the players on the roster.
Tom Thibodeau will have to go too.
According to the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence, the plan for Thibs to get out of Chicago may already be in motion.
It’s funny how all the inside information on the Bulls this season has come from New York’s Mitch Lawrence. First, there was Reggie Rose talking to Lawrence about brother Derrick not being happy with the idea of a rebuild (as if Derrick should be allowed any real say in it right now).
Then, last week, Lawrence wrote that the Bulls were actively shopping Luol Deng; the local Chicago beat guys said it just wasn’t true.
Deng was traded to Cleveland the next Monday.
And now over the weekend, Lawrence wrote:
There are rumblings around the Chicago Bulls’ offices these days that Tom Thibodeau already has a deal in place to coach the Knicks next season.
Well, Thibodeau is represented by CAA, the one and only firm that Jim Dolan wants to deal with when it comes to players and coaches. But it’s extremely difficult to believe that an agreement has been struck with the former Knicks assistant to come back to New York, since he’s under contract to coach the Bulls through 2016-17.
Sounds crazy, sure, but I’m guessing the original rumblings of the Celtics trading Doc Rivers to the Clippers sounded funny last year too. My only question here — you know, besides whether it’s true or not — is what the Knicks could send to the Bulls for Thibodeau.
What I don’t question is whether the Bulls should let Thibs go if he wants to leave.
And it’s not even because I’m worried about how Thibodeau would perform if he didn’t want to be at the United Center. As long as he’s here, he’ll coach the hell out of his team, they’ll play good defense, and more often than not, they’ll win.
Thibodeau is a great coach. I know that, and any Bulls fan who has been paying attention the last few seasons knows that. But just because he’s a great coach doesn’t mean he’s the right coach, or even a championship coach.
There are plenty of great coaches who weren’t able to win a title, and I wonder if Thibodeau is one of those guys.
Winning games and winning titles are two very different things. You look at coaches like Gregg Popovich and even Erik Spoelstra, and yes, they have rosters filled with talent. Phil Jackson had rosters filled with talent, both here and in Los Angeles. But they also know how to handle that talent, not just emotionally or personally, but physically. Guys are allowed nights off.
Thibs will run his guys into the ground if it means the difference between winning or losing a game against Milwaukee on a January night. There are plenty of instances of this happening here.
Just last week Jimmy Butler suffered a bruised thigh against Milwaukee. He could barely walk and needed help leaving the court. But he would eventually return to the game, and even though he was dragging himself up and down the court on one leg, Thibodeau kept him out there. Thibodeau had to win that game.
The next night against Charlotte, Butler couldn’t play.
The Bulls medical staff has been questioned a lot under Thibodeau, and deservedly so, but I don’t think the blame lies with them alone. A medical staff’s job is to say whether or not the player is healthy enough to play.
It’s on the coach to know whether he should play.
A medical staff will clear a player, and while a coach like Popovich will give that player an additional game off or just limit his minutes, Thibodeau only hears that a player is capable of going. In Thib’s world, that means the player is going to be out there for 45 minutes, or however damn long it takes to win the current game.
This is why Derrick Rose’s comeback last season was so messed up. Question Rose all you want, but the fact was he wanted to make sure he came back when he was ready to. He knew that had he left the decision to the Bulls medical staff and Thibodeau there would be no easing his way back in.
It’s that tunnel-vision and the inability to see the bigger picture that causes me not to get upset about the idea of losing Thibodeau. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not siding with the front office here, as John Paxson and Gar Forman really haven’t done a whole hell of a lot to earn my trust in their ability to put together a championship-winning team. They can follow Thibs to New York for all I care.
That’s not going to happen but Thibs to New York could, and it just might be the right move for all parties involved. If Thibodeau does want to go to New York this summer, let him.
The Bulls might not be able to replace him with a better coach, but they could replace him with a wiser one.
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