Tom Thibodeau isn’t even on the market yet, and he’s already being talked about as setting a new standard for coaching salaries. At least, if he winds up in Orlando, who are reportedly prepared to offer him close to eight figures.
From Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times:
In the last couple of weeks, there have been whispers that the vacant Orlando job is Thibodeau’s for the taking. In the last couple of days, there has been chatter that the Magic will make Thibodeau an extremely lucrative offer, one that could make him perhaps the highest-paid coach in the game.
Two NBA officials said they heard the Magic will be willing to pay Thibodeau anywhere from $7 million to $9 million annually. What’s more, they said Thibodeau will be accorded extensive input on basketball-oriented decisions.
Thibodeau’s current salary with the Bulls is approximately $4 million annually. For comparison’s sake, first-time NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher got $5 million per year last spring, and former University of Florida coach Billy Donovan just inked a five-year, $30 million deal with the Thunder. Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy make $7 million per year, and Gregg Popovich has been said to make as much as $11 million. Given the direction head coaching salaries are going, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Thibodeau, a proven success whose teams are playoff contenders every year, make a salary in this range at his next job.
More interesting perhaps than the money, though, is the suggestion that the Magic are willing to give Thibodeau a major say in personnel decisions. That has to be attractive to him, given the contentious relationship he has with the Bulls’ front office. But the Magic just signed GM Rob Hennigan to a contract extension that could take him through the 2018 season. They clearly trust him with the direction of the franchise, and he’d have to sign off on any additional power to give Thibodeau. But if he’s Hennigan’s long-term guy for the head coaching job, and that’s what it takes to land him, he might have to do it.
Before any of this happens, the Bulls have to let him go, and that’s going to get complicated before it gets resolved.