Coaching Watch: Thibodeau turns down Hornets, may have talked to Bulls

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.

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19 Responses to Coaching Watch: Thibodeau turns down Hornets, may have talked to Bulls

    Josh June 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Do other free agents, like LeBron who comes from a defense-first system already, want to come here if Thibodeau is the coach?

    bullsfandom June 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Lebron said in his King interview that he didn’t care who the coach was…and who wouldn’t want this guy?

  3. Ryan June 3, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Why would the Hornets want an answer by today? The guy is gearing up for the 2010 Finals! That is just a bad business practice. Let him have the time with his team… not every coach gets a chance to impact the Finals.

  4. bobbysimmons June 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Thibodeau looks like a meathead. I hate that he gets so much credit for being a “defensive mastermind.” What a bunch of b/s, I’d prefer a black coach who was a former player (ie. Avery Johnson!)

    Savage June 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Well he has championship experience and that is a huge plus he of course deserves an interview. Not sure why Bulls declined an interview with him during the 6 day break then looked like idiots flying down last minute like this. Like watching dumb and dumber all over again with Pax and Gar….

    Gonzo June 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    The most concerning aspect for me, is the possible violation of the NBA rules. If indeed Pax/Gar combo have committed a violation of NBA protocols both of those two should be realeased from their positions for sheer incompetence.

    On the other hand, Boston could be helping the Bulls keeping this all quiet by denying everything. I understand the want to do buisness without the press evaluating every step, but this cloak and dagger-slow as molasses process the Bulls have operated with is simply bewildering. Given that the Bulls have known that VDN was going to be let go in December, claiming to have to “evaluate all options” just points to a franchise without a clear direction.

    I’ve enjoyed Paxson’s tenure with the Bulls, he’s done a lot in terms of bringing the team/organizations credibility to a respectable level. The latest set of moves by this franchise, lead me to believe that we’ve gotten better inspite of the management.

    Paxson is best when operating conservatively and reviving a dormant franchise (Hinrich, Gordon, Duhon, Noah, Rose, Gibson) He is not the GM to stock a roster with bonafide NBA blue chippers to win an NBA championship. (Deng-cost team next years draft pick, signing Ben Wallace to big money, not trading Deng for Gasol-in trying to stay out of luxury cap, trading LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas) Paxson has a history of trading players that don’t fit with Bulls away as ballast. While I agree that players like JR Smith, Tim Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Thabo Sefolosha, Shannon Brown, probably didn’t fit with the character/future plans for the team, it seems to me John Paxson severely undervalued the League desire of many players on roster and let them go away without realizing appropriate return for trading away players.

  7. Mike June 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Why does it matter if he’s black or white Bobby? Poppovich and Jackson are both white, and they are way better than Avery Johnson.

    Boppinbob June 4, 2010 at 3:38 am #

    From wha I have heard, Thibodeau has not yet turned down the Hornets job and the Hornets have extended the deadline to Friday. The Bulls apparently have interviewed Thibodeau and are rumored to consider him a top three candidate. The Bulls may have to shit or get off the pot on Friday.

  9. kipp June 4, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Avery Johnson said he didn’t think that LeBron and D. Rose could play together. That makes him an idiot in my book, Black or not. Actually, Thibodeau’s been atop my list Vinny’s firing. I’d prefer Doc (there were rumors), but TT’s a solid choice.

    A defensive minded coach would fit perfectly with LeBron’s high basketball IQ. It takes D to win, and LeBron is very aware of that. Thibodeau’s D sent LBJ to the crib for the summer. Granted, he’s been most successful with a healthy KG, but the Cs also play great team defense which speaks to coaching. Assuming Phil’s not an option, I’m down to a pretty short list. 1. Doc, 2. Thibodeau, 3. B. Scott, 4.Anybody but McHale.

  10. BullsFan22 June 4, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    Thibodeau would be a great choice, I think. He is sort of like Scott Skiles, very much into the fundamentals of the game, defense and employing an ‘allround’ team game. If the Bulls do decide to take him as the next coach, I hope that things go much better with him and he stays longer than Skiles did. Mind you, Skiles did a very good job in getting the Bulls back into the mix, making the playoffs three straight years, making it to the conference semis in 2007, but with the poor start to the 08 season, was fired. Whoever it is at this point, I hope the Bulls front office actually makes a good decision and doesn’t get into a fight with the new personnel and treats the coaches and players with more respect. Go Bulls!

    DJ June 4, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    Why not? I have heard a lot of good things about him. To me it is either Byron Scott or Tom Thibodeau as the Bulls new head coach. We can go wrong their lol

    DJ June 4, 2010 at 6:27 am #


  13. kipp June 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    What happened to my post?

  14. kipp June 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    Never mind.

  15. bobbysimmons June 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Why do I want a black ex-player coach? I want someone the players can relate to, a players coach, not some guy who has a genius basketball mind but the players hate. I’m not saying Tom Tibideau is a machine that nobody can relate to, but let me tell you, “basketball strategy” is one of the most overrated qualities in NBA coaches, the players are the ones who win, not the coaches. Thus a coach that brings the players together, makes them comfortable, gives them confidence, is definitely first in my book. VDN was perfect, all the players were happy and confident under him, unlike Scott Skiles who I think ruined the careers of Curry, Chandler, TT. Yeah we may have got more wins with Skiles, but at what cost? Everyone was always disgruntled under him, I don’t recall that guy ever making a joke.

    bill thomas June 6, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    I kind of agree with bobbysimmons for example look at: Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Doc Rivers & Gregg Popovich they were all former basketball players and that is why most NBA present players can relate to them by, giving them more confidence to win a championship title.

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