What adjustments will Tom Thibodeau make? None. That's a problem

What adjustments will Tom Thibodeau make?  None.  That's a problem

Tom Thibodeau recently finished third in the coach of the year voting. If the Bulls were to lose Thibodeau, the odds of replacing him with someone better are about none. That said, it's hard not to look at him and think he has an Achilles heal and wonder if he'll ever step back far enough from where he's at and change.

Someone needs to send him a copy of "What got you here will not get you there". For Tom Thibodeau is the anti-Phil Jackson, and whenever you are the opposite of the most successful person in the history of your business in virtually every way imaginable, you should stop and consider whether or not something should change.

Jimmy Butler looks tired. Why does Jimmy Butler look tired? I don't know, but it's worth noting that he played 53 minutes last game. Who else would you trust besides Jimmy Butler to play defense though? Ronnie Brewer perhaps? Maybe. We don't really know. Maybe Ronnie Brewer is done, maybe he's the same guy.

We didn't try to work him into the rotation to find out.

Who could we have trusted to get us some points when the Bulls went 7 minutes and scored four points? Jimmer Fredette? Could he have given us a lift? We won't know. We never worked him into the rotation to find out.

Nope, we just keep playing the same eight man rotation all year no matter what, and the excuse that doing anything else would generate too many losses is simply an excuse. The Bulls used to play Luol Deng until his knees fell apart every game, and as soon as he left the team performed better with his backups taking on a bigger role.

Doesn't mean Luol Deng stinks, but it sure as hell means his backups could have taken on a larger role the whole time. It sure means that Deng could have played 34 minutes a game and stayed fresh.

Maybe we have the same ability now. However, now we'll just be guessing. It's a question we should already have had an answer to. However, Thibs won't change his rotations. He sniped angrily at K.C. Johnson when the question was brought up.

The thing is, Tom's excellence in the regular season is costing us now. Perhaps not experimenting with anything in the regular season earned us four additional wins, but perhaps it didn't. Maybe trying different things would have given us the same or a better result. Maybe our guys being fresher all season would have helped.

We don't really know. What we do know is that outside of the top eight in the rotation, we have no idea what we have in any other players. We know we can't stop Washington when it matters on defense, and we really don't know what we'd get if we tried to throw an offensive lineup out there.

Maybe Augustin, Fredette, and Dunleavy would score all over the Wizards. However, even if such a gimmick lineup would have a chance, it probably wouldn't be in the first time the three ever play together on the floor.

At the risk of going too cliche, the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Meanwhile, while Thiobdeau's players are gassed at the end of the game, John Wall and Bradley Beal are coming in fresh. They're more athletic, more rested, and surprisingly more effective at the end of the game. Can't imagine why that is.

Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau fought over whether or not to rest the Celtics down the stretch and hit the playoffs healthy. Rivers won. Who else won? The Celtics won. The title.

Phil Jackson made it a point to work everyone into the rotation, so that he could call on anyone's number in the playoffs and know they would fulfill their role on the team. Tom Thibodeau obviously believes differently.

There clearly isn't just one way to win. Coaches win in different ways with different types of teams all the time. A good coach needs to be open to pursuing different avenues of success, but Tom Thibodeau is stuck running down the only road he knows.

He won't get distracted by any side streets. He doesn't want to try anything different. He wants to bristle at anyone who suggest that perhaps something other than what he's doing right now might be successful.

His lack of development of his full roster and lack of trust in those guys continues to hurt the Bulls, but what hurts more is knowing that it will never change. If we have the deepest team in the NBA, he'll still stick to his top eight guys.

He'll still run them into the ground. He'll still take four years to discover that Taj Gibson is in fact better than Carlos Boozer [though he still won't switch the starting line up]. However, on a night where Boozer's killing it out there, he won't play Carlos more than 24 minutes either.

It's almost like someone created Tom Thibodeau out of a series of binary switches or a game of 20 questions that can only be answered with yes or no.

Now I love Tom Thibodeau as a coach. He does so many things well. So many things that other coaches don't. There's a reason he's in the coach of the year ballot every year for the regular season.

Joakim Noah said "Tom if we weren't winning, I'd really hate you" to which Tom replied "I feel the same way about you". There comes a point where the Bulls won't feel like they're winning to have a good regular season and get ousted in the playoffs.

In the best case scenario, Tom's lack of grey area will cause the Bulls to not play up to their potential. In the worst case, he'll lose the team once the players feel that "winning in the regular season" doesn't really count as winning if they can't perform in the playoffs.

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  • It was excruciating watching the Bulls go scoreless for 8 minutes while Boozer and Dunleavy just sat there. Not only won't he put the other guys on the bench into the game at all, he won't put in the regular rotation guys if it's not their designated time. The most inflexible substitution pattern I've ever seen.

  • Yep, Thibs is just too stubborn and it's most likely too late even if he does change his ways. He goes with the defensive lineup down the stretch but does not seem to realise that the defense breaks down due to exhaustion. I'm not sure if Jimmer would be able to handle the ball pressure from faster guards but there's no excuses for not giving Snell or Brewer more minutes.

    I don't have a problem with players playing heavy minutes as long as they are effective but they clearly are not. It's even scarier that we won the Off Reb 17-8 with the same amount of turnovers and couldn't get the win. Hoping for the unlikely adjustments in game 3. Go Bulls!

  • Doug you just made Thibs' argument for him. Ronnie Brewer and Jimmer Fredette!? The Bulls roster is weak, and we don't have anyone else capable of playing crucial minutes. Augustin has to play bc he's our only scoring threat, yet he's a major defensive liability. Boozer cannot play down the stretch bc Gibson is now better than him on both ends, and the next big fourth quarter shot will be his first.

    Blame the front office on refusing to believe in true two way players. The Bulls roster is littered with one way specialty players, and it's very hard to make adjustments when your roster is one dimensional and you're the inferior talented team. Get better playere and have more roster balance, then criticize Thibs. When the Bulls had a better roster (2010/2011), albeit still one dimensional, Thibs went TEN deep, so please spare me the Thibs bashing and focus your wining on management who fails year after year.

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    I'm not arguing that he should put those guys in now. He can't. However, we should have seen how we could work them into the rotation earlier, seen if we could find some innovative lineups.

    You don't sub Ronnie Brewer into the game in crunch time for the first time, but maybe you sub him in during the second quarter and give Jimmy Butler some rest.

    As for the FO, they haven't had much flexibility in awhile. Their circumstances have tied their hands considerably. Remove a superstar from any team, and that team isn't going to look so good.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Exactly, which is why blaming Thibs is not the way to go. The Bulla fell behind in game 2 and Thibs went with the bench and it got them back into the game. The playoffs are not the time to tinker with players. This is the same argument as 'play the backup quarterback' - you play the guys who got you here, especially if the backups suck. Like I've said for five years running, until the Bulls are more balanced, they'll struggle to win playoff games.

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    You don't play Jimmy Butler for 53 minutes.

    You have to find something else to do. It's one of Thibs great downfalls that he didn't find that other thing in the regular season.

    He did the same thing with Deng before Deng left, the excuse was that there was no one good enough to fill Deng's minutes without causing losses, but as soon as we had to fill them all, it still wasn't a problem.

    We've seen these heavy minute rotations are not necessary to win, but beyond that we've seen how they've limited our options right now.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng over reliance parallel is pretty telling IMO. Myopic view of rotations and defense/offense balance - to me anyway.

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    I know it's fashionable to blame the FO but how many teams have good players at 9-12 in the rotation? Does any team have it? I don't think other NBA teams have better talent 9-12, they're just more willing to give those guys time regardless.

    As for better 2-way players, those are among the highest paid in the game.

    For a while, Bulls could go 10 deep but that was the best bench in the NBA, and nobody liked the FO then either.

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    There are not gonna be any two way players in mid to late first round. That's been the problem with our drafting. I think everyone agrees we should have gotten Tim jr and dealt with his defensive probs, but the problem with thins is that he doesn't WANT to fit the puzzle pieces. (Ex. Jimmer in the reg season, Ronnie) You're not gonna find a team full of two way players.

  • When Noah and Thibodeau make the comments about hating each other I don't like that. You can rationalize all day about how all players at times hate their coaches or don't always get along etc. Or it's not his "job" to be liked. I just don't hear a lot of well regarded players make repeated inferences to discord and a serious dislike to whom is supposed to be their mentor in a sense.

    Noah I doubt would say he hates or dislikes a single player on his team. He's actually a very not to sound soft but loving kid of guy really I think.. Too voice extreme about disliking Thibs on more then one occasion, and I think he means it honestly. And for Thibs to respond in kind really I think it's stupid and shows his lack of social sophistication.

    Most good coaches I've seen are entertaining to watch. Thibs IMO is not at all entertaining to watch. His personality is just... not dynamic like even a usually stern faced Chuck Daley for example. I will look back with no fondness really on the Thib's era for him personally once he's gone. None at all. Ironically, you put him on a loaded offensive team in his Boston role as "associate" head coach, and you wonder how far they could go.

    Put Thibs on in his Boston role say with Washington, Portland, OKC..? I really think he would have benefited a Larry Brown type of role perhaps going from team to team(as he had done) working his savant magic, and then moving on. That would have been far more entertaining then him as just a curmudgeonly character he becomes once in the driver's seat. He's just not meant to be a head coach IMO. Period. Regular season wins be damned.

  • Side note: Now with Shabazz Napier moving up out of reach according to, that really leaves a fairly loaded top 13-14 and then honestly not a lot of high probability talent after that. In most years that is the norm anyway, but with recent dropouts it really alters what could have been a much more impressive 15-20 range then normal. As Doug states correctly a surefire No. 20 who is already a fairly prolific scorer in Jordan Adams UCLA probably should have stayed in. My guys Joseph Young Oregon and Marcus Paige UNC were not listed as first rounders or even on draft boards, but IMO would have likely found their way to first round status come draft night had they chosen to enter this year's draft. Their dropouts were a big loss for Bulls fans on draft night IMO.

    All that's really going to be left is T.J. Warren and Adrien Payne as far as shooters/scorers go anyway. Of course a guy like Stauskas could drop to us on draft night, but it's looking like if say even Warren rises up which he may only Eurostash options will remain along with sleeper Adrien Payne(and I know about his lung issues etc.).

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    That's not to say their isn't/won't be other offensive talent besides Payne after 15 and beyond like say a Nick Johnson or a C.J. Wilcox just that they are more typical of beyond the 10-12 slots as in gambles with less exceptional "proof" offensively from a stats/production point of view.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I don't follow college ball except at draft time, but given the Bulls need, a scoring wing, preferably a 2 guard, what about either of the 2 oversized point guards from UCLA(Anderson and Levin, I believe) we could convert them to 2 guards, or maybe it wouldn't matter next to Rose.

    I still like Dario Saric as another Eurostash. What about trading both picks to move up and grab Vonleh, I like my bigs.

  • I would have to believe that that the FO has to be concerned why Thibs is not using the assets that they went through the time and expense to acquire. For example, as I understand, Jimmer had other suitors and he obviously chose the Bulls because he believed this was his best opportunity. And if you need scoring desperately, why not bring off the bench the one guy who (if nothing else) can score?

    Another reason for the FO to be concerned is the health of their multi-million dollar assets. Didn't Pax choke Vinny because he played Noah a few minutes longer than the medical staff wanted him to play? You know Pax must have been steaming somewhat during the regular season, if not the playoffs.

    Just to be clear, Thibs is way more irreplaceable than GarPax (and for good reason). Maybe Thibs knows this and is sticking their noses in whatever concerns they may have. Somewhere Ron Adams is smiling.

  • You nailed this, Doug. Look, we've all know this for years, back to when the Bulls picked up a decent backup guard for the playoffs, and he never even saw the court. Nor did he use Thomas effectively against Miami in the playoffs.

    Apparently even Adams could not get Thibs to see the points you made. Too bad. He may be ruining Butler for the future.

    Here is a solution - include Thibs in the trade for Carmelo! Then hire Adams as HC.

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    I sense the frustration after losing two games in the playoffs. The team looks too tired to compete. We worry about this happening every Nov - Apr, but when we dare question Thibs coaching techniques during the reg season it is like the Cowardly Lion talking to the Great Wizard of Oz. This has been going on for four yrs w/ Thibs. in 2011 everything was all good as the Bulls won 62 reg season games and made it to the ECF, but even then the team looked worn out by late May from Thibs relying on such a short lineup. Year after year we go through this emotional rollercoaster w/ the Bulls coach.
    I brought this same scenario up on RealGm's Bulls forum and I became the The Wicked Witch of the West forecasting such a thing.
    The true of the matter is that we enjoy living in the moment just like our Chicago Bulls Head Coach. To play Jimmer would mean to give up points on defense, and Bulls fans would dare not risk that. To play Snell for heavy mins to give Butler some rest would possibly cost the Bulls a win, and we know how important winning regular season games are.

  • Thibs doesn't need to look to Phil Jackson for inspiration on this issue. He only has to look at his own history as the Bulls' head coach. He never really trusted Jimmy Butler until he was forced to use him. Now Butler has become the indispensabull.

  • Thibodeau is the regular season champ. He'll give you a nice competitive team and burn them out. I'm sadly starting to feel it's going to end poorly for him here in Chicago. The thing is don't you need him to lure away Melo? We might be stuck with him for now. Unless the guy will grow as a coach we might be hand cuffed to these kind of seasons. First and second round outs. Tired players.

    My feeling is... if the Bulls can aquire Melo you keep Thibs around for that duration. If the Bulls fail to aquire Melo I would look to trade Thibs. I don't think he's the right coach for the organization.

    The Bulls need a better player manager because with their A1 player who has had two knee surgeries they'll need a coach thats more from the school of Pop and the Spurs.

  • 1. Before we blame Thibs, recognize that if he did what you wanted - varying the rotation more - the Bulls would have a worse seed in the playoffs and would be down 2-0 anyway, most likely. The issue is that our team is just not that great and...

    2. As noted, playing our 'good' players the extra minutes just artificially inflates our record and ability to win games. On the other hand, we win games, and the team is fun to watch and support.

    3. Under bench Mob 1.0, Thibs went 10 deep regularly. If he thinks he has the players to win, he'll play them.

    4. Adding Derrick + some other signing (Mirotic/Melo/etc), all of a sudden we're 10 deep again.

    5. I don't like watching dead-tired players play either. But playing more players is not likely to change the outcome of the game, or more importantly a series. I don't like the way Thibs manages minutes either, but I think it's also a 2-way street with the FO. If they were concerned about minutes, they'd put a restriction on it.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    You make some good points but Thibs refused to give other players more minutes while Deng was around and as it turns out, playing him so many minutes didn't really lead to more wins. So when he did have more depth, he didn't use it as well as he could have.

    Love Thibs but his flaws are clear.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    I definitely agree about the bench mob bit - one of the criticisms of Thibs during his first season was "he plays 10 or 11 players every night, that isn't going to work in the playoffs when you need a 7 or 8 man rotation".

    You even look at the first games of this year when everyone was there, there was a full 9 man rotation of Rose/Butler/Deng/Boozer/Noah with Hinrich/Dunleavy/Gibson/Nazr off the bench for meaningful minutes every game. The first game anyone played 40+ minutes was the game Rose went down, when Butler was already out, so Deng played more.

    Playing Butler the entire playoff game might be ridiculous, but Thibs reputation as being a total slave driver has been a bit forced on him by circumstance.

  • yes Thibodeau's rotations suck but can you blame him? Asik was replaced by flat tires Nazr M. and gutted the bench to save money while the all star payed Boozer sucks(front office hello), Thibodeau has many faults and his rotation minutes have to be more balanced but the front office needs to get moving......more two way players, more offense and don't draft low energy players, they need to draft scoring talent with a constant running motor that can also play some D. I also wouldnt overpay for Jimmy Butler, he's a slightly taller Tony Allen and should be paid around the mle. The Bulls front office keeps telling us that they are maxed out, can't afford the luxury tax, etc.......well then make better decisions with your self imposed budget restraints. They've gotten lucky with Nate Robinson and DJ Augustine but that luck will eventually run out, its time to see a front office worthy of a great sports town. Get us the big fish or get out and let someone with cojones get the job done.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Yes, I blame Thibs. I also would like the FO to draft star players (scoring talent, defense, high motor) in the mid-to-late first round as you suggest but no FO does so consistently. The FO can do better but so can Thibs.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    It's not that the FO "can't afford the luxury tax"- they paid it last year, and would have paid it this year if Rose hadn't got hurt again.

    When more than 25% of your team salary is going to one player who isn't playing, it's impossible for the FO to "make better budget decisions".

    Take Wall off the Wizards, they were horrible. Take Westbrook off OKC, they couldn't get out of the second round after being in the Finals the year before.

    We are all spoiled by the Bulls' success without our superstar- this team did so much overachieving the last two years, it's easy to get frustrated.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    to make it even worse another 20%+ of your team salary is going to another player who isn't playing, but unfortunately is still taking up space on the court. Anybody want to offer a guess who that might be.

  • My counter arguement would be what if we swapped coaches with the wizards at the beginning of the season? My Guess would be the Wizards might just be contenders for the best record in the NBA and would probably be serious Threats to Indy and Miami. Bulls would have likely fallen to pieces after Rose went down and probably miss the playoffs. How many coaches in the NBA can have that dramatic of an impact? Maybe 3 or 4...

    Sure Thibs has his issues but he really hasn't had the talent to make a serious run lets be completely honest. Minus Rose we resemble a non playoff team roster. Yet there they go locking up the three seed its just crazy what he does with the little talent he has. You can bash him for not using Jimmer Fredette but what about praising how he integrated DJ? Outside of Rose's "freak?" knee injury the Bulls have been shockingly healthy this season. Some of that has to be credited to Thibs I am sure. Should Jimmy play 53 minutes? No I wouldn't but if throwing Thibs a comfort blanket makes him happy then whatever its not like Jimmy or Loul are star players who you need hitting valuable buckets in the clutch. If he wants to grind a grinder let him.

    I think 90% of the blame belongs on the doorstep of John Paxson and his semi retarded evil minion Gar. Why they never address shot creator role with anything more than a non gaurenteed vet minimum contract is a joke. The fact that they didn't even bother to fill it this offseason after Nate Robinson single handidly won a playoff series for them tells me all I need to know that they have no clue about what drives this teams offense. Nate should have gotten a contract how much did making it to the second round earn the Bulls? That was all Nate and for that we wave him adu with no contract discussion at all. Really!?!?!? Now I wonder how Ron Adams lasted as long as he did I would probably be fired in the first month of working with Gar.

  • In reply to Chad:

    This is just dumb.

  • The adjustments I would make is trying jimmy on john wall. I think jimmy is exhausted chasing beal off multiple screens the whole night l. He should leave that to hinrich. I know someone might think the wall is so fast that jimmy would be tired again, but it's the playoffs and pace tends to slow down in general. I think Jimmy's size could bother wall. Jimmy also needs to get going offensively. Why not try him in the post against a smaller beal. I think he has displayed a decent post game and a knack for drawing fouls. He could be successful. Also if dunleavy is a part of a run that gets you a double digit lead don't take him out in the 4th ride the line up. Thibbs always talks about riding those who got you there, stay true to your word tom. I think Jo should play gortat and be the roamer and anchor on d instead of playing the tougher nene who has given him problems. I'm not scared of the 22-19 home record the wizards have, but the bulls need to make adjustments

  • In reply to argie2333:

    Made that point after game one, still think that we should give it a try.

  • A couple of ESPN's guys did a redraft of the 2008 draft, you know the 1.7% one.

    Rose due to injuries was demoted from #1, they picked Kevin Love and called him one of the 5 best players in the world and the best rebounder/shooter of all time. I imagine Larry Bird fans are going nuts.

    Westbrook came in 2nd, with Rose falling to 3rd and 7th.

    Beasely fell off the map.

    By far the most interesting pick was Asik at 3rd and 8th. Ahead of fellow centers Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and Deandre Jordan. 3rd seems awfully high to me, and I've been the guys' biggest fan. Even top 10 is pretty darn good considering that he couldn't come over right away.

    That draft ended up producing some very nice talent.

  • Even though Thibs is getting a bit of criticism for being inflexible, you know what gets a coach more criticism? Trying something different and seeing it fail. If the Bulls lose the series playing the way they always do, the blame will mostly end up on the players. If Thibs starts throwing out new rotations and they lose, the blame will fall on him.

    Not to say Thibs is right, I agree that he should be doing something different, but I can see the logic from Thibs side. Coaches tend to very much follow the "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" rule, and play it safe with what got them the job in the first place.

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