First, some background. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times a year ago:
According to a source, it was back in October that it was leaked to Thibodeau that the front office – specifically VP of basketball operations John Paxson – was “building a case’’ for a parting of the ways at the end of the year.
The obvious was taking control of the minutes and placing restrictions on certain players from participating in certain drills, using director of sports performance, Jen Swanson, as the messenger for all of those edicts.
The relationship between Swanson and Thibodeau had completely deteriorated over the summer anyway, when Thibodeau and the rest of the Team USA coaching staff felt she was dishonest about the handling of Derrick Rose in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
Swanson, who worked with Rose at the Athletes’ Performance in Los Angeles during his May 2012 surgery to repair his torn left anterior cruciate ligament and was hired by the Bulls the following summer, was asked to be interviewed for the story, but the request was denied.
The Bulls, of course, fired Tom Thibodeau.
Now, they’re ousting Swanson.
sources said the Bulls dismissed Jen Swanson as the team’s director of sports performance. Swanson oversaw Rose’s ACL rehab in 2012 as a prominent Los Angeles-based physical therapist and was hired, amid much fanfare, to oversee the Bulls’ training and strength staffs in September 2013.
According to someone who spoke to Swanson, she was told the Bulls merely wanted “to shake things up” after another injury-plagued season.
The Bulls also dismissed strength coach Nick Papendieck, and one of Butler’s trainers is in line as a replacement, sources said.
Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:
The Bulls have not escaped Thibodeau’s shadow.
When Jimmy Butler said Hoiberg needed to coach the team harder, it reeked of missing Thibodeau. As Chicago stumbled to its first first season outside the playoffs in eight years, many – perhaps including within the Bulls’ locker room – looked back longingly on the Thibodeau era.
Firing Swanson reopens old wounds (that were barely healing, anyway).
I don’t know why the Bulls hired or fired Swanson. From the outside, it’s difficult to assess trainers. But this is what it looks like: Management backed her over Thibodeau then, after firing Thibodeau, realized he was right.
If that doesn’t cause dissension, firing a Rose ally for a Jimmy Butler ally could – especially with Thibodeau getting in the middle of it. Though they’ve repeatedly denied it, Butler and Rose reportedly have some sort of rift.
The Bulls have had more than their fair share of injury problems the last few years. If replacing Swanson and Papendieck makes players healthier, the change will pay off.
But, in the meantime, it just leads to all kinds of complications and questions.