It has been rumored that the Bulls’ coaching search includes Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau. If so, there are good reasons for it, not the least of which is that Thibodeau is by all accounts the mastermind of Boston’s “iron curtain” defense. And the Bulls aren’t the only team interested in him.
In fact, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the New Orleans Hornets already offered Thibodeau their head coaching position. It was rumored that the Hornets wanted an answer by today. It seems they got one. According to the New York Post, Thibodeau turned them down.
So apparently Thibodeau is still in play. Are the Bulls going to make a push for him? Based on some reports, they supposedly already have.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “On the eve of the NBA Finals, league sources said Bulls management flew to Los Angeles to interview Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau for their head coaching vacancy late Wednesday. The meeting hadn’t taken place as of nearly 10 p.m. Chicago time Wednesday, but sources said both general manager Gar Forman and senior vice president John Paxson were in Los Angeles.”
That news was, ahem, news to Celtics officials.
According to Jim O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Boston Celtics executives rushed to deny a Chicago Tribune report late Wednesday night that Bulls basketball chiefs John Paxson and Gar Forman were in Los Angeles to formally interview Celtics associate head coach Tom Thibodeau for the Bulls’ head-coaching job. … With the Celtics scheduled to play Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, Paxson and Forman would be guilty of an enormous breach of NBA protocol and ethics if they attempted to interview Thibodeau without Ainge’s explicit consent while the Boston postseason continues.”
In an e-mail to the Sun-Times, Celtics executive director for basketball operations Danny Ainge said: ”I don’t know a thing about it.”
Celtics veteran vice president of media relations Jeff Twiss added: ”Unless I’m missing something here, everything on the court involving the Boston Celtics — personnel, coaches, support staff — is under Danny’s watch. Everything goes through him. That’s just the way it is in our organization. If Danny doesn’t know anything about it, quite simply, we’re denying it. I am very surprised. Times have changed, but there still are normal policies and procedures.”
Denying it doesn’t make it not true. However, if the Bulls really did fly out to have a chat with Thibodeau, why the sudden rush? And why would they apparently breach protocol to do so?
According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “The Bulls originally declined an opportunity to meet with Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau during the six-day break before the Finals, thinking they didn’t want to be pressured into a quick decision. But with Thibodeau feeling the heat to accept an offer from New Orleans by Thursday, there were suggestions Bulls management had a change of heart and flew to Los Angeles to meet with Thibodeau on Wednesday night.”
Could Thibodeau’s possibly talk with Bulls management have had anything to do with him turning down the Hornets job? Chances are, we’ll never know. Whatever the case, I’m glad he’s still available. He’s currently on the top of my list of Bulls head coach candidates…on the opposite end of Kevin McHale.