The Chicago Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau may soon be going separate ways. There are reports that the team is considering firing the head coach -- even at the risk of a financial hit to the team.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that Thibodeau’s termination is now very likely with the Bulls brass confident they won’t pay the entire remaining amount of the deal -- $9 million over the next two years -- because of league rules that kick in when Thibodeau lands another coaching gig in the NBA.
Thibodeau has led the Bulls to respectability in the past five seasons, making the playoffs all five years. However, except for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in his first year (2011-12), Thibodeau and the Bulls have been booted out of the postseason twice in the first round and twice in the conference semifinals.
Most recently, the Bulls -- featuring Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol -- lost to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. Even during the regular season and the playoffs, there were already reports that the Chicago front office had grown weary of Thibodeau and planned to fire him after the season.
One of the causes of the rift is said to be Thibodeau’s insistence on playing key players and stars major minutes up to the point of running them the ground, which opens to more risk of injuries.
Before joining the Bulls, Thibodeau was an assistant coach to Doc Rivers with the Boston Celtics. Thibodeau’s defensive style helped the Celtics win the 2008 NBA title and he brought the same type of game to the Bulls.
In a five-year head coaching stint in Chicago, Thibodeau has a 255-139 win-loss record in the regular season but only 23-28 in the postseason.