Despite leading his team to the playoffs five years in a row, including one conference finals appearance, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been fired from his position on the Chicago bench.
In theory it doesn’t make sense to get rid of Thibodeau. He brought a winning mentality to a Bulls team that desperately needed it and has done more with less than any coach in the league considering all the injuries players have suffered throughout his tenure.
After all the obstacles Thibodeau still accumulated 255 wins in his five seasons in Chicago. I personally think Thibodeau should have been able to coach out the last two years of his contract but with the growing tensions between him and the Front Office, that didn’t seem very likely. Now that Thibodeau is officially out of Chicago, here are the best available options in no particular order the Bulls should consider:
1. Alvin Gentry
- Current Associate Head Coach for Golden State Warriors.
- Assistant under Larry Brown at University of Kansas, winning 1988 NCAA Championship.
- Led Phoenix Suns to 54 wins in 2009-10 as head coach, lost in conference finals.
- Head coach for four different teams.
- Assistant under Mike D’Antoni and Doc Rivers.
Alvin Gentry is one of the more popular coaching candidates this year, already meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans about the head coaching position. He is currently an assistant for one of the best teams in basketball, the Golden State Warriors, who are in the NBA Finals this year. He has previous experience as a head coach, even leading the Phoenix Suns to the Conference Finals in 2009-10. Gentry ran a high powered offense in Phoenix and could possibly elevate the Bull’s offense to a level they have not yet been to. The team lacked offensive consistency all year; Alvin Gentry might have the answer to there offensive woes.
2. Fred Hoiberg
- Current Head Coach for Iowa State University men’s basketball team.
- Former NBA shooting guard (1995-2005).
- Played for Chicago Bulls 1999-2003.
- 115-56 record with Iowa State, making sweet 16 in 2013-2014.
- Former Vice President of Basketball Operations for Minnesota Timberwolves.
Fred Hoiberg is another popular coaching candidate who has been closely linked with the Chicago Bulls head coaching position. He looks to be Chicago’s top choice and many people believe if Chicago gives him an offer he will take it. Hoiberg is a former NBA player and former Chicago Bull, so he knows what it takes to be in the greatest basketball league in the world. He is considered to be one of the most NBA ready college coaches, and the most likely to make the jump to the pros. He is another offensive minded guy and was a great shooter in his playing days which could rub off on Derrick Rose, who is still struggling to find a consistent jump shot. Hoiberg is a relatively young guy and should be able to build a good chemistry with the team, and being a former Bull can only help his cause.
3. Mark Jackson
- Current NBA analyst.
- Former NBA point guard (1987-2004).
- Head Coach of Golden State Warriors (2011-2014)
Much like Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson appeared to lose his job because of disagreements with the front office. Jackson was excellent in Golden State, taking a team who in the season prior to his arrival had a record of 36-46, to an up and coming power house who finished with a 51-31 record his last year as coach. He brought a team up in the unforgiving Western Conference who started as bottom feeders to a team that is now in the NBA finals. Even though he is not coaching the team currently, he played a big part in the development of star players such as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. All the players appeared to have really liked Mark Jackson, and he was fired for all the wrong reasons. He not only developed Golden State’s players, he also turned them into a defensive juggernaut, going from having the 26th ranked defense based on defensive ratings in the season before he arrived to the 4th best in his final year. Unless he chooses to stay in the broadcast booth, Mark Jackson should have no trouble finding another job and he would be one of my favorite choices to coach Chicago.
- Current Associate Head Coach for Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Former NBA point guard 1998-2009.
- Former Boston Celtics Director of Basketball Development.
- Los Angeles Clippers assistant under Doc Rivers 2013-2014.
- 2x NBA Champion with Los Angeles Lakers.
Tyronn Lue is a recently retired player looking to work his way up the coaching ranks. Despite only being retired for six years, Lue is already building a strong resume. Before the hiring of David Blatt, the Cleveland Cavaliers should have made Lue the head coach instead. Lue has shown he knows the game of basketball better than most and has saved David Blatt from countless coaching errors throughout this season. The Cavs players even seem to have more respect for Lue, the assistant coach, than for Blatt. Point guards are some of the most knowledgeable players in the game, Tyronn Lue is no exception. He has not held a head coaching position yet, but judging by his quick decision making this year to help David Blatt stay afloat in Cleveland, he looks to be ready to take on his first coaching gig. He also spent a year under Doc Rivers, who is one of the most respected coaches in the game today. That experience only adds to the vast knowledge Lue has for the game of basketball. A 2x NBA champion as a player, Lue knows what it takes to get to the promised land and he is also young enough at the age of 38 to understand his players the way some older coaches might not be able to. Tyronn Lue will make a fine head coach some day, will the Chicago Bulls be the team to give him a shot? I wouldn’t mind seeing him on Chicago’s bench next year.
5. Jim Boylen
- Current Assistant for San Antonio Spurs, winning 2014 championship
- Assistant with Houston Rockets from 1992-2003, winning 2 championships. Coached star players such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming.
- Assistant at Michigan State under legendary coach Jud Heathcote from 1987-1992, also assistant for Michigan State under Tom Izzo 2005-2007.
- Head Coach for the Utah Utes men’s basketball team 2007-2011.
Jim Boylen has perhaps the best resume of all the coaches on this list, yet has not been mentioned at all as a candidate for any head coaching positions. Fellow Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina seem to get more love from the media as a future head coach, but Jim Boylen looks to be the most qualified. He has been involved with basketball over 20 years and has been on multiple winning teams. Boylen has won three NBA championships as an assistant coach and was previously considered the best assistant coach in the NCAA when he was working under Tom Izzo. He has had the chance to pick the brains of some of the best coaches in the game, including arguably the best coach today in Greg Poppovich. Boylen has been in playoff situations, championship situations, he has coached hall of fame players and has been a winner throughout his coaching career. This isn’t a sexy pick for the head coach position, but if anyone has the experience and knowledge to coach in the NBA, it is Jim Boylen. Boylen has also had experience as a head coach in college, so he is also experienced with being the ultimate leader of a team. Why Boylen hasn’t been offered a head coaching position is beyond me, but he looks to be a solid choice. He might be closer to the old school coach that Tom Thibodeau is than the others on this list but regardless is excellent at what he does and belongs in the NBA.