Days after reports surfaced that the Chicago Bulls were seriously considering letting go of head coach Tom Thibodeau, the team made it official with an announcement of the firing Thursday. The development was widely expected after a much publicized rift between the two parties during the season.
The Bulls were hoping to receive compensation from another team interested in Thibodeau but no opportunity arose. Instead, the front office will settle for some financial savings as Thibodeau’s contract has an offset provision, which means the Bulls will be able to recoup some of the salary paid to him if he signs with another NBA team.
Thibodeau had two years left on his contract valued at $9 million. Both Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Bulls, and Gar Forman, general manager, stated in a news release that the change was necessary for the Bulls.
“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,” Reinsdorf said.
"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,” Forman said.. “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."
The Bulls hired Thibodeau before the 2010-2011 NBA season and made the postseason in each year that the defensive-minded coach led the team. Chicago made the Eastern Conference final in his first year with the team and in the succeeding years had two first-round exits and conference semifinals eliminations. The most recent playoff loss was against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the current postseason.
“Coach Thibs” ends his career in Chicago with a 255-139 win-loss record in the regular season and 23-28 in the playoffs.