Following a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Tom Thibodeau, the team announced in a statement.
The 57-year-old has worked Chicago’s sidelines for the last five seasons amassing a 255-139 record, and taking the team to the playoffs every year with a 23-28 overall mark. He previously served as a top assistant with the Boston Celtics under head coach Doc Rivers. Thibodeau was credited with helping the Celtics win the NBA Finals in 2008.
Yet despite his success with the Bulls and Celtics, Thibodeau reportedly had a contentious relationship with the Bulls' top officials. Numerous reports cited difficulties with team general Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.
Bulls owner and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf hinted in his statement that Thibodeau’s dismissal, even in the face of his considerable success, had to do with the “free flow of information” in all parts of the team’s organization.
“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,” Reinsdorf’s statement read.
“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.”
Sources told ESPN that the Bulls were displeased with Thibodeau’s inability to lead Chicago past an injury-ridden Cavs squad.
As recently as Wednesday, ESPN reported that the Bulls were unsure about firing Thibodeau because of the two years and $9 million in salary he’s owed under his contract, but that the move seemed imminent.
Both sides now move on with Thibodeau likely one of the hottest candidates on the coaching market. There are openings with the Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets.
Chicago also expressed strong interest in Iowa State head coach and former Bull Fred Hoiberg. Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski stated in a radio interview Wednesday that “people around Hoiberg” believe he’ll be the Bulls coach next season.
Hoiberg, 42, played 10 seasons in the NBA. He was drafted in the second round by the Indiana Pacers in 1995, and would serve as a reserve for the team four seasons. Hoiberg then spent four seasons with the Bulls before retiring after two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005.
He played for Iowa State, and would accept the head coaching job for the Cyclones in 2010.