All throughout the season, the writing has been on the wall for the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau. There’s been some bitterness between them since the Bulls abruptly let go Thibodeau’s top assistant, Ron Adams, and since then, he and general manager Gar Forman have butted heads over minutes limits for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, among other issues.
Even with the Bulls’ recent success in the playoffs (they’re on the verge of completing a first-round sweep of the Bucks), the whispers won’t go away. From Grantland’s Zach Lowe:
The minutes issue drove a well-documented wedge between Thibodeau and the front office. There were playing time edicts, a mysterious yoga instructor who suddenly had a ton of say-so over playing time, the bitter firing of genius assistant Ron Adams, a contract extension that sat unsigned, and endless rumors of a cold war. Somehow, grown men who work at finding ways to put an orange sphere through a circle proved unable to have a prolonged civil dialogue over mundane basketball issues.
People close to Thibodeau are convinced the Bulls will fire him after this season, though the front office has always played down the tiff in terse public statements.
This isn’t a groundbreaking development, but coming from someone as well-sourced as Lowe, it’s worth pointing out. The signs have been there all year that the two sides are heading for a breakup. The disagreements between Thibodeau and the Bulls are simply too fundamental at this point for the relationship to be sustainable.
Thibodeau could pick a worse time to hit the open market. There will be openings in Denver, Orlando, Oklahoma City and possibly New Orleans. He’ll have no trouble getting another job right away.