Pau Gasol thanks Thibodeau in very Gasol-like comments


Pau Gasol is as good a human being as you are going to find in the NBA.

The Chicago Bulls big man took to his blog recently to comment on the release of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the team, and as you would expect he was gracious to everyone involved (as translated by the Chicago Tribune).

“Coach Thibodeau, (I) want to thank your trust and support this season,” Gasol wrote. “I am sure that his departure was a very difficult decision for the organization of the Bulls, but I am convinced that they have a solid plan for the success of the franchise. We all have high expectations for the coming season and will do anything to bring the ring to Chicago. Go Bulls!”

Those high expectations will fall on Fred Hoiberg, who is expected to be given the job officially as Bulls coach on Monday.

Part of his challenge is getting the most out of Gasol and finding lineups where he works well. Gasol averaged 18.5 points a game on 49.4 percent shooting and was named to the All-Star Team last season. Though not terribly athletic anymore, he remains a skilled big man with the ball who can score back-to-the-basket or from the midrange. Defensively he’s not bad if allowed to be in the paint, but the farther he is dragged out on the court to deal with pick-and-rolls, the more trouble he gets into.

When Gasol was paired with the other starters — Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Joakim Noah — the Bulls were +4.1 per 48 minutes. Gasol was part of the Bulls four most successful lineups that played at last 100 minutes together last season. He’s got value.

But it’s up to Hoiberg to use those assets well while hiding his liabilities.

Report: Tom Thibodeau not interested in coaching Pelicans (because he fears Anthony Davis leaving), Magic or Nuggets


Tom Thibodeau reportedly preferred sitting out next season to helping the Bulls by accepting a trade.

Now that they’ve fired him, they can’t get compensation from another team for letting him out of his contract. But him signing a new deal – likely worth much more than what the Bulls owe him – would let them off the hook financially.

How much does Thibodeau want to spite the Bulls?

How does he feel about the open jobs? What openings does he anticipate in 2016? To what degree would he prefer coaching those teams? How would he spend the next year if not coaching?

These are all questions that will factor into his decision about what to do next season.

According to one report – reliability caveats of the source noted – Thibodeau (for whatever reasons) has already made up his mind about the three non-Chicago openings.

Peter Vecsey:

Anthony Davis is under contract next season, and because he’ll be a restricted free agent after that, he can’t unilaterally leave New Orleans until 2017 at the earliest.

Likely, he’ll be with the Pelicans through 2021.

They’re going to offer him a max contract extension, and for him to make a higher salary under the Derrick Rose Rule, the extension must be for five years. He’d have to give up a lot of money to leave before 2021 and an outrageous amount to leave in 2017.

Considering the job security of even good NBA coaches, it seems silly for Thibodeau to worry about Davis staying in New Orleans. No matter what Davis feels at this very moment – and indications are he likes the city and team – so much could change by the time it matters.

But the Pelicans should probably be slightly concerned if someone who knows Davis – Thibodeau was a Team USA assistant coach – believes the star will leave New Orleans. This report isn’t definitive proof Thibodeau thinks that, and even if he does, he’s not necessarily right. But with a player as important as Davis, the Pelicans should take every signal seriously.

Three coaches who may replace Tom Thibodeau in Chicago


It was time.

But now the Bulls have to do better than the guy they had. That is not going to be easy.

Tom Thibodeau is one of the better, more successful coaches in the NBA. He’s also a hard-driving guy who physically and mentally wore out his charges, guys who did not want him back as the coach. Thibodeau changed the NBA game with his defense, but his offense was conventional, lagging far behind what innovative teams — Golden State, San Antonio — had done to counter his defenses. The blood was bad in Chicago, time for everyone to move on.

That doesn’t excuse the quiet smear job Bulls management has been doing to Thibodeau — up to and including his firing — but there’s a ring of truth to all of it.

Thibodeau will land on his feet somewhere. He’s sought after, and as a classic workaholic he incapable of taking a year off to backpack through Thailand. Or whatever.

Now what direction do the Bulls go?

Bulls GM Gar Forman tried to play his cards close to his vest Thursday at the press conference. (From PBT’s Sean Highkin, who was at the press conference.)

“I just don’t think we’re going to put ourselves in a box. I know that’s kind of an easy thing to say, but we’ve got certain criteria, some of which I’ve already said, but we’re not going to put ourselves in a box that it had to have been a head coach, an assistant, what level they’ve coached at. We’re really looking for the right fit. I went through some of those things that I talked about, obviously someone that could lead, someone that can communicate at a high level, has a great knowledge of the game. Obviously experience is a plus, as far as coaching is concerned. If they’ve been a head coach, even more so. But we’re not going to limit the search in any way.”

Sure. That is a PR crafted statement. The truth is they pretty much are limiting their serious search to these three guys:

1) Fred Hoiberg. The current Iowa State coach — and former 10-year NBA player and front office executive with Minnesota — has long been on the top of the Chicago Bulls list. He’s considered the most NBA-ready of the college coaches by GMs around the league, there will not be as much learning on the job as with most college coaches. The question is does he want to make the leap to the NBA right now? Hoiberg grew up in Ames, Iowa, the hometown of Iowa State. That’s where he played his college ball. He’s called the mayor there for a reason. Plus, he recently had a heart procedure — is deep-dish pizza and NBA hours/stress what he wants in his life right now?

2) Alvin Gentry. He’s sort of the anti-Thibodeau — a player-friendly coach whose strength is on the offensive end. He was the lead assistant in Golden State this year where his fingerprints are all over the Warriors’ prolific offense. The season before he was Doc Rivers’ lead assistant in charge of a Clippers’ offense that has been the most efficient in the league for a couple seasons. There is plenty of talent in Chicago — Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler (who will re-sign in Chicago), Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, plus Mike Dunleavy. If the Bulls want to change course, this is the best call.

3) Adrian Griffin. The Bulls current lead assistant keeps the job in house but promotes a guy a lot of the league sees as an assistant ready for the move to the big chair. He’s a former NBA player who is credited with the development of guys like Jimmy Butler (who just one Most Improved Player). The guys in the locker room love him.  He’s not a bad choice, but he is Plan C — if Hoiberg and Gentry both pass on Chicago, Griffin’s phone will ring. 

Bulls front office on Tom Thibodeau firing: “We probably wouldn’t be sitting here if we won a championship”


CHICAGO — To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Bulls fired Tom Thibodeau on Thursday. It’s been an open secret around the league for months that the relationship between Thibodeau and the Bulls’ front-office brain trust of GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson was irreparably broken. It was a matter of when, not if, Thibodeau would be fired, and when the final decision was made Thursday afternoon, the two executives reflected on a season of missed opportunities.

“We probably wouldn’t be sitting here if we won a championship,” Paxson said at the press conference immediately following Thibodeau’s firing. “That’s just the truth. But we haven’t done that. And we go back to this year, when we had a real missed opportunity.”

Indeed, the Bulls came into their second-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers with an unexpected advantage. Kevin Love was out for the year, after suffering a shoulder injury in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round sweep against the Celtics. The Bulls, for once, were healthy, and Kyrie Irving was hobbled. But the Bulls couldn’t put a run together despite taking the first game of the series and then taking a 2-1 lead after Game 3. Cleveland won Game 4 on a LeBron James buzzer-beater, and the Bulls did not win again for the rest of the series.

“Cleveland’s a great team and they’re in the Finals,” Paxson said. “But we really felt like, given their injuries, the path was there for us and we could have seized it. It’s about trying to take advantage of the moment, and we didn’t do that this year, and that was really disappointing.”

Thibodeau’s coaching style has been a source of controversy for some time. In particular, the minutes loads for players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who were coming off knee injuries, were a point of contention. Thibodeau is famously hard-nosed and doesn’t believe in minutes limits or saving anything for the playoffs, while the front office wanted to take a more conservative approach.

For the first time in several years, the Bulls entered the playoffs with Rose healthy, but the team simply underachieved. They went long stretches without scoring and weren’t able to capitalize on a weakened Cavs team.

Beyond their disappointment with the way the season ended, though, Paxson and Forman repeatedly declined to go much into specifics about where things went wrong between management and Thibodeau.

“Out of respect for everybody involved, we’re not going to go into a lot of specifics and a lot of details in this decision,” said Forman. “We sit here today, we a great belief system in the core of players that we have, and we believe we’re headed in the right direction. After the meetings we had last week that I talked about, we feel like we’re headed in the right direction. We’re focused on the future and continue to feel our future’s very, very positive, that we’ve got a bright future.”

Bulls fire Tom Thibodeau


Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls are finally out of there misery.

A little quicker than expected.

Bulls release:

Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman announced today that Tom Thibodeau will not be retained as the team’s head coach.

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture.  To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required. Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future.”

“When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.  “But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed.”

Thibodeau had a successful five-year run, winning 51 games per season and winning four playoff series around Derrick Rose injuries.

But he and management clearly weren’t on the same page. Conflicts over playing time, practice intensity, offensive strategy and coaching staffs overwhelmed what should have been a more successful relationship.

The Bulls have a strong roster, and they should have no trouble luring a quality coach – maybe Fred Hoiberg or Alvin Gentry.

Thibodeau should land on his feet – maybe with the Pelicans.

Time will tell which side deserves more blame for this breakup, but there’s plenty of it to go around for both Thibodeau and management.