The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Tom Thibodeau after five seasons at the helm, the team announced Thursday morning:
The Bulls released quite the aggressive press release:
Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. 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. 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. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required. 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.”
And there was more shade:
“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,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “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.”
This firing was expected as the relationship between Thibodeau and Bulls management soured beyond repair due to disagreements over minutes management, the general handling of the roster and offensive schemes. If you can’t tell just how bad the the relationship was, just read that press release a few times.
Thibodeau was hired in 2010 after Vinny Del Negro got the ax. The Bulls immediately turned into an Eastern Conference power under Thibodeau, winning 62 games with Derrick Rose winning MVP and Thibodeau winning Coach of the Year before the team lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
LeBron was a thorn in Thibodeau’s side for his entire tenure in Chicago, and so were Rose’s multiple knee injuries. Thibodeau routinely got short-handed teams to overachieve in the regular season, but he never enjoyed that much playoff success.
This year proved to be the last straw as the Bulls lost to LeBron and a banged-up Cleveland Cavaliers team in the second round. With all the noise surrounding Thibodeau, it was only a matter of time before he was gone. Chicago was hoping to get some kind of compensation for Thibodeau, but no other teams would bite and now he has been fired:
Thibodeau knew it was coming and will collect the $9 million owed him on his contract.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 28, 2015
If Thibodeau gets another job, the Bulls will be off the hook for that money because of offset language in his contract. The New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic reportedly have interest, with the Pelicans seemingly a likelier option.
Thibodeau went 255-139 in the regular season and 23-28 in the postseason with Chicago.
Fred Hoiberg is Chicago’s top candidate to replace Thibodeau and is ultimately expected to take the job.