Author: Brett Pollakoff


Bulls GM: Permission would have been granted for other teams to talk to Thibodeau, but ‘nobody called’


Tom Thibodeau was under contract to coach the Chicago Bulls up until early Thursday afternoon, when the team announced his firing with an official release.

But many around the league have known for some time that Thibodeau would likely be out as Bulls head coach this summer, and therefore could have potentially been available before the news of the separation was formally announced.

Chicago brass maintained that they would have granted permission for teams to pursue Thibodeau as an option — if only they had called to ask.

From K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Forman reiterates what Tribune reported all along: Bulls would’ve granted permission for other teams to talk to Thibs. Nobody called.

That would be Bulls GM Gar Forman, who (along with VP of basketball operations John Paxson) met the media to discuss the situation long after the decision had been made.

The primary reason for the lack of interest from other teams was the fact that everyone knew Thibodeau would be let go eventually. Had a club asked for permission to speak with Thibodeau while he was still under contract with the Bulls, and then decided they were interested in hiring him, Chicago would have asked for compensation in the form of one or more future draft picks.

Bulls management continues to throw shade at Thibodeau now that he’s gone. But saying that no teams called to inquire about Thibodeau’s availability shouldn’t be construed as a negative, despite how the front office clearly attempted to make it seem.

Report: Pelicans interviewed Vinny Del Negro for head coaching position

Vinny Del Negro

The Pelicans vacant head coaching job is easily the most desirable in the league.

Anthony Davis is arguably a top-three player in the league already, and will be under contract in New Orleans for the next several seasons.

Because of that, there are several candidates interested in the position — most of which would seem to be stronger choices than the one who interviewed for the position most recently.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Vinny Del Negro discussed the New Orleans Pelicans coaching vacancy with general manager Dell Demps, league sources told Yahoo Sports. …

Former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and Golden State assistant Alvin Gentry are the frontrunners for the job, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Del Negro emerged as a candidate based upon his successful five-year run as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers.

Van Gundy and Gentry are both better-suited to lead the Pelicans than Del Negro, but there is a scenario where a lesser candidate could unexpectedly come away with the job.

It’s all about control of the decision-making process. Van Gundy would likely want to have a strong say in personnel decisions, similar to what his brother Stan got when he accepted the dual roles of president and head coach of the Pistons. And Gentry, who led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals in 2010 (which, by the way, was the last time Phoenix made the playoffs) was let go midseason in 2013, partly because of a disagreement with the front office over the importance of winning immediately versus developing players for the future.

Del Negro would likely be good with less of a say, and that may sit better with Demps — even though the GM hasn’t done much over the last few seasons (aside from the no-brainer choice to draft Davis) to lead us to believe that he actually knows what’s best for the the franchise.

Report: ‘At least three’ Bulls starters ripped Tom Thibodeau during exit interview

Getty Images

Now that the Bulls have parted ways with head coach Tom Thibodeau, the organization continues to leak negative information about how Thibodeau was perceived in his final season with the franchise.

First came the press release, which essentially threw Thibodeau under the bus, and portrayed him as a controlling individual who couldn’t play well with others.

“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,” Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. 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 comes word that Thibodeau didn’t have the support of key players, as well.

From Dan Bernstein of

#Bulls sources: at least three starters ripped Thibs in exit interview, said they’d avoid team facility this summer if he were still there.

This is likely more negativity coming from the front office.

Bulls management didn’t need a reason to slander Thibodeau in this way. In fact, during Thursday’s presser, John Paxson said more than once that if the Bulls were playing for a championship right now, then they wouldn’t be having this conversation.

That’s all that needed to be said — expectations were high, and Thibodeau didn’t meet them from a pure performance standpoint. But instead, the organization feels the need to justify its decision by belittling Thibodeau on his way out the door, when he has exhibited nothing but class publicly throughout this process.

[via The Big Lead]

Hawks radio broadcast refers to Matthew Dellavedova as ‘Tonya Harding’

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

Matthew Dellavedova isn’t exactly a fan favorite in Atlanta, and evidently, those feelings are shared by the radio broadcast team, as well.

Dellavedova took out Kyle Korver by rolling onto his leg while diving for a loose ball, and was involved in a similar play a game later that caused Al Horford to retaliate, which resulted in Horford’s ejection.

The Korver play didn’t at all seem intentional; Dellavedova’s intentions during the Horford play seemed less clear.

During the Game 4 broadcast, the guys on the Hawks feed had some fun with the perception that Dellavedova was out there trying to injure players on purpose.

Timely reference … if that time was 1994.

Harding, of course, is a former Olympic figure skater who was involved in hiring someone to injure fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan, so that Kerrigan would be unable to participate against Harding in an upcoming competition.

Dellavedova didn’t quite go that far, obviously, and whether or not he intended to inflict any damage at all remains in serious doubt. But the comparison is hilarious nonetheless.

[via Larry Brown Sports]

Cavaliers owner says firing David Blatt midseason was never considered


Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert went on the record publicly in May, shooting down a rumor and said that head coach David Blatt would be fired after this season no matter how far the Cavaliers advanced.

It was obviously complete nonsense, because if Cleveland ended up winning the title, making any sudden changes like that would be nearly impossible to envision.

But what about back in January?

Things were rough in Cleveland for a stretch, when the team went through a period of losing 10 of 12 contests. LeBron James was out during that time, of course, but it still could have been a reasonable time for panic to set in given the expectations.

Gilbert, however, says it was never something that was considered.

From Chris Haynes of

In an exclusive interview with Northeast Ohio Media Group, Cavaliers’ Owner Dan Gilbert said firing Blatt was never considered, and added that his confidence in his coach never wavered.

“It really didn’t,” Gilbert told NEOMG. “I don’t care what the expectations were, especially after we changed coaches twice in two years. This was a guy with a long-term record of success. You have to at least give a season, maybe more than just one. I think it would have destabilized the entire franchise and it would have been bad.”

This may be true, and it’s especially easy to say now that the Cavaliers have officially made it to the NBA Finals.

A lot of the reported unrest surrounding Blatt’s early-season performance could have been leaked to the media via players or agents who had various agendas for wanting a change to be made. But at least from ownership’s perspective, it never seemed to be a realistic possibility, and the patience was rewarded by Blatt finding a way to guide Cleveland to the championship round, despite the many obstacles that were in place.