Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe Discuss Behind-The-Scenes Unrest In Chicago


On today’s B.S. Report, Grantland’s Bill Simmons had the always-excellent Zach Lowe on to discuss the state of the league heading into the All-Star break, as well as topics pertaining to the festivities of said weekend. Simmons went out of his way to bring up the Bulls early in the chat.

“We gotta talk about this Bulls thing quickly because this is one of those things where the actual what’s going on isn’t fully what I think the public thinks,” Simmons said. After bringing up Chicago’s past behavior with Vinny del Negro, he continued saying, referring to the rumors about Thibs, “I don’t want to use the words ‘smear campaign’ but there are elements of smear-campaignishness.”

When asked of his take on the situation, Lowe said the situation is not one that he’s super-plugged into, but after noting the heavy minutes and Ron Adams factors, he said, “The Thibs noise never stops […] and where there’s that much noise, there’s something going on.”

Simmons mentioned the hiring of Jen Swanson, adding, “Apparently they rely on her to the point where it makes Thibs uncomfortable. She’s actually telling management how many minutes guys should play and that’s a lot of the conflict…Once you start moving into the realm of ‘We don’t trust the minutes you’re playing these guys, we’re going to give you help’ that’s when it becomes a problem.” Lowe confirmed that he has heard rumblings along the same lines.

With the Bulls an hour away from tip-off in Golden State, here are the main takeaways:

1. You have to take Simmons’ talk on the Bulls with a grain of salt after his prediction last summer fell through. When Memphis was going through front office upheaval (that seems like years ago at this point), coach Dave Joerger had supposedly seen the writing on the wall and was headed to Minnesota to salvage a secure head coaching job. Simmons followed with this on Twitter:

He also mentioned Fred Hoiberg as a replacement for the Bulls.

So, that’s not to say he’s wrong this time, but he has been anticipating a Thibs-Bulls split for a while now and it has yet to happen.

2. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Thibodeau bristling at injury-related minutes management. He whined frequently at the beginning of the season when constrained by management’s limitations on Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The guy just doesn’t get it. If there’s one thing we know about Thibs, it’s that he’s stubborn, often to a fault. No amount of expert opinion is changing his mind on just about anything, whether it’s minutes or tactics. This dates all the way back to his first year when his failure to at least try Kurt Thomas in the Eastern Conference Finals proved to be a mistake. This will prove important tonight, considering Golden State bludgeoned the Bulls all game with Draymond Green stretching the floor, with Thibs refusing to abandon Pau Gasol defending the paint as Noah struggled on the perimeter.

3. Another sign of unrest: ABC/ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy spoke out in defense of his good friend Thibodeau asserting that the Bulls have undermined him just as they have coaches in the past. Van Gundy isn’t doing that without Thibs wanting him to, or at the least, being OK with it. Per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Thibodeau’s response was, in part, “I’m fine. I don’t get wrapped up in that stuff. That’s his job. He’s paid to give opinions.”

Not exactly a denial.

3 Responses to Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe Discuss Behind-The-Scenes Unrest In Chicago

    Big easy January 28, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Total BS (intentional use of initials there)! I used to be a frequent listener of his podcasts, but he’s totally lost touch and is as much about page views and downloads as ESPN is about ratings. I can’t take anything he says seriously after he whined himself off the NBA broadcast. Truth of the matter is reinsdorf got del Negro the clipper job. If that was in exchange for keeping his mouth shut that’s an awfully big favor for one owner to ask another. If the things supposedly said about Del Negro weren’t true than why is his name never mentioned as a serious coaching candidate for vacancies? He was never a good coach. Bulls were smart to get rid of him when they did.

    Trainers throughout the league have influence over minutes. Any smart organization would want to keep that in mind. Look at the Spurs, they rely heavily on monitoring players minutes.

    Zach Lowe is really good at breaking down film and talking Xs and Os, but unless it’s coming from Wojo, it’s just hype. Appreciate your take on this, but there’s nothing there in my opinion.

    Scott42444 January 28, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    I’m a big supporter of the Bulls front office. Since Paxson took over as GM in 2003 (and eventually moved to V.P. of Ops and Gar Forman was promoted to GM, to create the GarPax), the Bulls have only missed the playoffs 2 times. That first year in 2003, when the Bulls lost their previous “Franchise Point Guard” Jay Williams to a career ending injury only two weeks prior to the LOADED 2003 NBA Draft, and year they drafted Rose. Heck, even though they went conservative in 2003 after having to shift gears by drafting Hinrich, he’s one of only 3 or 4 guys still their original team from that draft (LeBron, Wade, maybe Collison?). The Eddy Curry trade was highway robbery.

    The 2010-2011 season saw them:

    1) Give Thibs his first Head Coaching job and he won COY
    2) They led the NBA in wins AFTER having to move to “Plan C” (losing out, through no fault of their own, on the Miami “Big 3” AND Joe Johnson getting a Mega Max deal from Atlanta only the Nets were crazy enough to trade away assets for), AND…
    3) They drafted Mirotic and Butler (with picks received from Utah in the Boozer sign and trade, among others, they received Mirotic and got future All-Star Jimmy Butler at #30)

    They have made mistakes, like every front office, but they have done what good front offices do and corrected those mistakes. Trading LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas? Ouch. But, they received a 1st rounder from Charlotte for Thomas, a guy who has been out of the NBA via amnesty until this past week, which they packaged with their own pick to move into the lottery to grab McDermott. They missed on James Johnson, yet received assets back for him, and missed on Marquis Teague. I also think it’s fair say that letting Omer Asik walk for nothing is an embarrassment (although that is somewhat a CBA loophole/mistake than anything else, but that’s their job to understand).

    BUT… The Bulls have been in the title conversation this entire decade with only ONE real obstacle holding them back. That’s the HEALTH of the players. It’s almost unprecedented the list of injuries to All-Stars the Bulls have when the playoffs arrive. I don’t think the front office is to blame. Bad luck certainly is a BIG part of it. But also, either Luol Deng or Jimmy Butler have led the NBA in minutes played multiple times since Thibs had been the coach. They HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO FIX THAT PROBLEM! !! Guaranteed contracts don’t allow them to get rid the players, so they have to force Thibs’s hand and give him minutes restrictions. They waited 4 years, without any change on Thibs’s part, so they had to the changes for him. It can’t ALWAYS be a “limited roster” as an excuse. There is a REASON people were reluctant to give Thibs a job. Maybe JVG should acknowledge THAT, that they have a man with 30 years experience his first opportunity and he isn’t PERFECT, even if he’s certainly ELITE, and stepping in to try and stop the CONSTANT injuries is their job as a front office.

    Sandra Levy January 29, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    u r absolutely right, thibidoh is stubborn to the detriment of his players. some injuries r going to happen but he hates to rest his players or he hates figuring out substitutions. already over playing gasol and rose

Leave a Reply

Designed by Anthony Bain