When asked whether or not he'd coach the Chicago Bulls next year, Tom Thibodeau finally gave the answer he should have been given all along.
Thibs on speculation: "I'm with a team that I love. I'm not sure why that'd be a question..I'm under contract. I'm planning on being here.''
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) February 24, 2014
He'd previously said things like "I want to be here, but it's not up to me" indicating that management might unload him which is more or less ridiculous thinking. Tom's one of the top five coaches in the NBA, and it's not hard to make a case for him being one of the top two.
He's been a head coach for four seasons, and a case could be made for having him as coach of the year in all four. Most interestingly, that case would have been radically different as he actually won the award for coach on the best team and could have won it again his second year for the same reason.
However, in his third season, he warranted credit as the coach who did the most with the least. With Rose out and Deng gone, he'll get earn consideration under the same light this season if the Bulls play well down the stretch.
Despite his brilliant track record, a concept that he might and how to handle that exit was elevated to the idea that he might actually leave. Then the idea appeared to gain traction with the media and fans even though the underlying premises have changed somewhat.
Take these three things:
1: Thibodeau has a rift with the front office which was made worse by the removal of Ron Adams.
2: At one point, the Bulls had the eighth worst record in the league and had just went 1-3 in four games against the bottom five including two against the worst team in the league. It looked possible he had lost the team.
3: The Celtics moved Doc Rivers to get value back.
Add those up, and the idea was if the rift has grown too far, if no reconciliation is possible, then the Bulls have to find a suitor similar to the Celtics with Rivers. An area where they can move Thibodeau and get a pick back as compensation rather than having to actually eat his contract. Given Tom's performance and the Lakers/Knicks/Nets needs/willingness to spend, such a move seems plausible.
However, what's always been far more plausible is that Tom Thibodeau simply stay with the Chicago Bulls and continue to prove deserving of coach of the year awards. I know he plays guys into the ground. I know he has some minor flaws, but in the end, it isn't getting better than this folks.
If Tom's not your guy, please tell me which available coach is and ask yourself in an honest moment if you think that guy could really keep a team motivated like Tom does, if he could make them want it like Tom does, and if he teach like Tom does.
The #1 indicator (IMO) of successful coaching is defense. You can coach offense to an extent, but offense is frequently based simply on what talent level your team has. Most NBA players can play defense when given the proper motivation and right environment, and Tom Thibodeau's teams always play great defense.
This has been true up and down every organization he's been with as an assistant and especially true with the Bulls as a head coach. Playing defense is about commitment and will. Some players have those traits more than others, but all players will shift their level of engagement based on the leadership, and Tom Thibodeau is a tremendous leader.
He's the coach who can still talk to his guys right now about winning a championship this season, even though we all feel it's ridiculous, and get buy-in from his players. He can do that despite failing to win for the past three seasons.
No, Tom Thibodeau's not going anywhere. The Bulls front office isn't that stupid, regardless of what rift they have. As long as Thibs doesn't lose the team, as long as those 13 guys buy in to what he's selling, Tom will have a home in Chicago.
It's nice to hear him finally confirm that without any hints to the opposite. This time he finally shut down the rumor.