So, he’s coaching for his job during these playoffs?
Adrian Wojnarowski on Fox Sports 1:
If it was up to management, there’s no amount of winning here that would bring Tom Thibodeau back. And listen, this is difficult on Thibodeau, too. And people around him have never seen him so down this year, so frustrated with just the process of just interacting with the organization every day.
Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls owner, though – this has been a culture in Chicago from Jerry Krause and Phil Jackson to Vinny Del Negro and John Paxson in the past.
If the team keeps winning and gets to the Finals, and public sentiment keeps going toward Tom Thibodeau, ownership could have pause in this.
But the management team wants a new coach next year.
The problems between Chicago’s front office – led by executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman – and Thibodeau are well-documented. It seems both sides are looking ahead, the Bulls possibly to Fred Hoiberg and Thibodeau possibly to the Magic (who seem interested).
But I don’t think a breakup is inevitable – especially if the Bulls, who lead the Cavaliers 1-0 in their second-round series, keep winning.
If Thibodeau sees Chicago’s veterans, including Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, play well deep into the playoffs, maybe he becomes more sympathetic to resting players during the regular season. If management sees Thibodeau’s defense shut down LeBron James and other stars along a deep playoff run, maybe it will re-appreciate Thibodeau’s great coaching.
And that’s just supposing this up to management. As Wojnarowski said, Reinsdorf could step in – and he’s more likely to do so if the Bulls win. Ditto Chicago’s players, who could make their opinions heard directly or through ownership.
Plus, Thibodeau has two years remaining on his contract. Even if management wants to ditch him, the Bulls might play hardball for compensation, which could lead to Thibodeau’s return. At minimum, it’s a complicating factor.
Winning would be, too.
Winning cures nearly all ills. At this very moment, Bulls management might not think it’d be enough to salvage this relationship, but I don’t think the involved parties can truly know the emotional effects of winning – whether it’s a champion or the Eastern Conference or even just this series against Cleveland – until they go through it. It’s one thing to imagine the effects. It’s another to, day to day, experience the euphoria of accomplishing the team-wide goal.
Thibodeau seems to be playing from behind if he’s trying to prove why the Bulls should retain him. Winning would only help, though it’s unclear whether that’d be enough.