All signs point to these being Tom Thibodeau’s last days as Bulls coach with a resolution planned for no later than Friday, sources told the Tribune.
Furthermore, according to multiple sources, some players didn’t endorse Thibodeau’s return in exit meetings with management.
In fact, according to sources, some players have been making separate offseason plans for several summers instead of working out formerly at the Berto Center and now the Advocate Center to get a break from Thibodeau, who rarely leaves the practice facility.
That would be in Chicago, where some players and people around the Bulls already have heard that coach Tom Thibodeau won’t be back next year, two people close to the situation told Sporting News.
Thibodeau has the support of some Bulls players, though apparently not others – which makes him like every coach in the NBA. Chicago management has incentive to leak information about the unhappy players, but that alone doesn’t present a full picture.
Still, it’s easy to see how the hard-driving Thibodeau would wear on his team. If players leave Chicago during the offseason for a break, that’s not the worst thing in the world. Mark it as a drawback in a pro-con list that still favors Thibodeau heavily as a good coach.
But that doesn’t make him a good coach for the Bulls. By this point, it’s apparent the rift between him and management (Gar Forman and John Paxson) is too deep.
We’ve heard about squabbles over playing time, practice habits and offense. Here’s another point of discord.
Doug Collins reportedly went to Thibodeau in 2013 about becoming a Chicago assistant coach.
In fact, Collins initiated the idea and it came in 2013, the sources said. This was shortly after the Bulls let Ron Adams go and Collins’ son, Chris, landed the Northwestern head coaching job.
Collins, according to one of the sources, talked to Thibodeau for two hours as a friendly overture to help him as an assistant focusing on the offense. Thibodeau called Collins back 10 days later to decline, which Collins understood with no issues.
Bulls management and ownership learned about Collins’ overture months later, two sources said. Thibodeau chose to keep the conversation with Collins private.
I don’t blame Thibodeau for not hiring Collins – especially as an offensive-minded assistant. Collins was a very good coach at one point, but he struggled to keep up as the NBA got smarter about shot selection. The Bulls didn’t need more long 2s.
And Thibodeau was under no obligation to disclose his meeting with Collins to management. But if Thibodeau had a healthy working relationship with Forman and Paxson, he would have.
This is an untenable situation that will probably be over very soon.