The last five years have been a roller coaster for the Chicago Bulls. Throughout all the success, adversity, injuries and disappointment, one thing has remained constant: excellent coaching and leadership by Tom Thibodeau.
The 2010-2011 coach of the year has taken the Bulls to the playoffs each of the five years they have played under him and they have established the identity of a hard-nosed defensive juggernaut who are always highly competitive. In 394 regular season games coaching the Bulls, Thibodeau managed to register 255 wins. This gives him a winning percentage of .647. He is among the elite of current NBA coaches in terms of winning percentage and respect. If he were to leave Chicago he would be among the most coveted coaches on the market. There has already been talks linking him to New Orleans, weather it is true or not remains to be seen.
In pure basketball terms, it doesn’t make sense to get rid of Tom Thibodeau. He made the Bulls the competitors they are and without his leadership they would have fell apart every time Derrick Rose suffered a knee injury. He is also one of the most brilliant defensive minds the NBA has seen, but in the world of sports, business is business. Just recently, New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams was fired this season after posting a 45-37 record in the brutal Western Conference and making the playoffs. Also last season Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson was fired even after building the Warriors into a feared playoff contender in only three seasons. This proves that winning doesn’t necessarily mean job security. This isn’t the only scenario Thibodeau could find himself in. A few years ago highly touted coach Doc Rivers was literally traded from the Celtics to the Clippers for a first round draft pick. Last year head coach Jason Kidd was also traded from the Nets to the Milwaukee Bucks for two second round picks. If a team searching for a head coach such as the New Orleans Pelicans or Orlando Magic were to send Chicago an enticing offer such as a first round pick, Thibodeau is as good as gone. He still has two years left on his contract but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could be fired if a good deal doesn’t present itself. Whatever happens hopefully it does not drag throughout the offseason creating negative energy around the team.
In the NBA winning doesn’t guarantee your job, and unfortunately the relationship between Thibodeau and the Bulls front office may not be reparable. Perhaps a finals appearance could have mended broken bridges between Thibs and the front office but a second round exit for a Chicago Bulls team that was expected by many to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals means Thibodeau will likely not be coaching the Chicago Bulls next season. Not only was the 2nd round series against the Cavs a disappointment, it was an embarrassment to be blown out at home in a must win game to get knocked out of the playoffs. Leaving the season off on a sour note like this does not bode well for Thibodeau’s chances of staying in Chicago. Many of the players on the current roster could very well be on another team next year and changes look to be on the horizon. Maybe the best thing for this team is a fresh start with a new voice. Whoever is tasked with coaching this team must establish leadership from day one. Although the Tom Thibodeau era in Chicago is all but over , it is one Bulls fans can look back at and be proud of.