Tom Thibodeau is represented by Creative Artists Agency. We have to start there.
CAA and the Knicks enjoy an extremely harmonious relationship.
Once Woodson switches his representation to CAA, the agency will control the team’s best player, the head coach and front-office executives Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien — not to mention marketing and sponsorship partners and musical artists who can fill the Garden for important concert dates that otherwise might have gone to the spectacular new arena nearing completion in Brooklyn for the Nets.
So, the only reason the idea of Thibodeau going to the Bulls is gaining footing is because he’s represented by CAA.
Don’t forget he’s another CAA star client who already has some Knicks history after his stint as an assistant on Jeff Van Gundy’s staff. No one I’ve consulted, furthermore, thinks that trying to bring in the famously demanding Thibodeau would dissuade Melo from re-signing with the Knicks, who, remember, can still pay their star forward $30 million more than anyone else to stay in a city he adores.
Thibs has two seasons left on his Bulls deal after this one, true, but there is said to be enough lingering friction between the coach and GM Gar Forman to the point that you can picture it eventually sparking some sort of mutual parting. Throw in the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose’s health, rising fears that Thibs’ beloved Luol Deng is a certainty to relocate in free agency next summer (if not sooner) and the occasional grumble in circulation about some of the Bulls’ players chafing at how hard Thibs pushes them in practice and there’s clearly something there when coaching insiders tip you to keep your eye on Thibs to the Knicks.
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The biggest obvious hurdle is Thibodeau signed a four-year contract extension that kicked in this season. So, how do the sides get past that?
1. Money. Thibodeau is one of the NBA’s best coaches, and if the Knicks want him, they’ll have to pay top dollar. First, they’ll have to offer Thibodeau a high salary. Then, they’ll have to offer the Bulls financial compensation for letting Thibodeau out of his contract early. Offering just draft picks, as the Clippers did to acquire Doc Rivers from Boston, probably won’t work, because the Knicks are already infamously short on picks.
2. The Bulls giving approval. Beck reports the Bulls would likely let Thibodeau out of his contract if he asks – though not before using their leverage to extract compensation from New York, I’m sure. The rift between Thibodeau and the front office is no secret, and if the they rebuild based on Derrick Rose’s health and Luol Deng’s free agency, the Bulls might prefer to do so with a new coach. Plus, Thibodeau’s demanding style must wear on players, and Chicago might just decide his message has become tired there.
3. The Knicks actually wanting Thibodeau. As long as James Dolan is running the Knicks, who knows what they’re doing? They’ll probably just keep Woodson or hire Allan Houston, who has no coaching experience.
But these are not huge obstacles. Though nobody is more likely than the field to coach the Knicks next season, this really could happen.
Thibodeau, via Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:
“I don’t pay any attention to any of that stuff. To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement and never get away from that,” he continued. “There’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there that’s just B.S., so if you pay any attention, it does no good. It takes you away from what’s important, and what’s important right now is our improvement and getting ready for the next game.”
Allow me to read way too much into that statement. Thibodeau never denies his interest in New York. He never says he’s committed to the Bulls forever.
It sounds like he’s wisely leaving the door open, and there’s no good reason to believe he won’t eventually walk through it. At this point, though, there also aren’t enough reasons to assume he will, either.