The summer of Thibs

The summer of Thibs

So. This is my first post as the lead blogger here. That isn't terrifying at all! I mean, it's not like I have some big shoes to fill. Nah, just some guy who devoted years and years to build up a community, delivering daily articles, recording podcasts, and even got some time in the sun within the old Berto Center.

*Begins sweating* That's easy to replace, right? Right?!

Kidding aside, I want to thank Doug for his years here, as well as his devotion to the site and the Bulls community as a whole. I also want to thank him for this opportunity, and hope I can do the site justice. I hope the sunset looks awesome, buddy!


On to the Bulls, where the talk of the town is, duh, the fate of Tom Thibodeau. After five years residing over the United Center, it appears those days have come to an end, even if the conclusion on the matter might not be resolved quickly. This, in my mind at least, offers up some challenges:

  1. Hiring a new coach before the draft is beneficial to every club, so the coach can have input.
  2. Thibodeau himself demands roster input, but won't have any wherever he goes, if this moves into the late summer.
  3. Dragging out the process could mean Fred Hoiberg a new coach would miss Summer League, an important tool to getting to know the younger members of his new team.
  4. Coaches aren't allowed to hold team practices over the summer, but that doesn't mean they can't communicate with them and guide their training. This would go away as well.

A quick, simple, resolution would be great for all parties, but have we ever known the Bulls to do "simple"? Not really. Thibs isn't walking away from $9 million because, why should he? The team isn't letting him go without compensation because, why would they? The media has deemed this a game of chicken, but this could be more than that. This could be a whole "unstoppable force meeting an immovable object" thing, something you just hate seeing because it tears on everyone's patience. This is like restricted free agency, only for coaches. Eric Bledsoe situation, here we come!

All right, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll admit that. But my confidence in a quick resolve on this matter is low. From everything we've read and heard over the past few years, the relationship between Thibs and Gar Forman is beyond the mere conception of repair. There is even a rumor going around that the two aren't on speaking terms, which admittedly is something I don't believe, but I buy the idea that the two probably don't like to talk to one another, which is sort of necessary for them to work anything out. Unless of course it becomes an GM/Agent conversation, which is just inviting miscommunication.

Now, in terms of compensation, the Clippers traded away their first-rounder this year for Doc Rivers last summer. The writing was on the wall for Rivers too, but the Celtics fetched that value anyway. One could argue that the bad blood between Rivers and Danny Ainge was non-existing compared to Thibs and Gar, but that's conjecture. We don't know. My point, however, is this: The media has been all over this feud since it developed. According to everyone, Thibs is gone, and it's supposedly the general thought around the league. So in that light, why would anyone give the Bulls a first-rounder when they could just hang tight and wait until one of them cracks?

I'm going to answer my own question: Because like I stated above, any team interested in Thibs would also want him to get integrated quickly. Waiting it out wouldn't benefit anyone, and if the team in question is looking at a first-rounder in the late 20's anyway, it might be worth calling up the Bulls and telling them there's a first-rounder waiting for them, if they tear his deal up quickly. That's speculation of course, but Thibs is a complicated basketball mind. He's not a plug-and-play coach. He requires months of preparation and planning, getting his roster on the same page as him, and locating which players he can trust.

In short: If he's hired in August, the hiring team would be playing catch-up and risk getting off to an inconsistent start.

We'll see what happens. Tomorrow night is the NBA Draft Lottery. Pending on where the picks fall, some teams might be inclined to change their approach to a coach, and maybe wishing to hire someone quick. If Orlando wins the first pick, I assume they would love to have Thibs coaching their top rookie in Summer League, if he's the guy they want moving forward.


Leave a comment
  • Welcome to your first day officially on the job. Until Doug said his goodbye, I never realized this job entailed a 100-hour work month. Welcome to your prison. It's like on Lost when that one guy got that other guy to start hitting that button in his place. Doug is dancing off into the sunset right now.

    Re Thibs: I could definitely see this thing playing out much quieter than you suspect. I think the sheer force of hatred shared between the FO and Thibs could incentivize the process of this transition to run more smoothly. I think both parties are at that, "Whatever it takes to never have to look at that guy's ugly face again," stage. I wouldn't rule out a standoff of sorts, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it happens as quietly as Noah's small little insignificant procedure that totally couldn't tank his career last offseason.

    It would surprise me if the Bulls managed to wrangle a first-rounder for Thibs. I see a second-rounder or two in their future. I believe Doc had more clout and more outspoken friends around the league and in the sports media.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Thank you.

    Yes, Doug got me good. "It'll be easy" he said. "It's no problem" he uttered. And now he's off sipping drinks while laughing maniacally.

    As for Thibs: It'd be beneficial to all parties if what you suggest end up happening. So in a weird way, it might be wise to hope the relationship has soured to that extent, so no one has to sit through a tense summer. Question is though: Has it soured to that point?

  • In reply to Morten Stig Jensen:

    I think the relationship has definitely soured to that point. But we're talking about incredibly, absolutely monstrously stubborn men. Thibs and GarPax. The real question may be: Does their now legendary hatred of one another supplant their world-renowned stubborness?

  • In reply to Hunter:

    "The real question may be: Does their now legendary hatred of one another supplant their world-renowned stubborness?"

    ... Talk about an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object

  • I don't think it'll happen, but what if Jerry switched it on us and moved Gar out of that role? If the primary issue is Gar and Thibs and Thibs is the best coach available, maybe the Bulls should consider moving Gar out of that role. Or, make it clear that Thibs reports directly to Pax. That may alleviate the issue. Of course, since the 2 don't currently speak, I'm not sure it would be any different

  • In reply to nafsllub:

    keep dreaming man... I had hopes for this, and they aren't even close to existing at this point. Plus with reports of a problem between Rose and Butler(see Dan Bernstein article on the Bulls need someone who can actually work out issues between human beings.. Thibs isn't the solution for that kind of problem.

  • Welcome to the blog, Morten. Looking forward to your blogs. On Thibs, I know the Bulls FO realizes that any Thibs replacement will mean a step down and bye-bye hopes for a championship with this roster. So, I still have a gut feeling that they will swallow their pride and stick with Thibs for one more year.

  • Welcome again, Mort! You'll do a great job, I'm sure. Great first "official" post!

    Not that it changes the substance of your post but I hear the rift is between Thibs and Pax, not Thibs and Gar. Thibs and Pax won't speak to each other and Gar is the go-between.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Did Gar or Pax or John tell you who the rift is between or are you just getting your knowledge from "sources?"

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    That's what Joe Cowley reports.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    then it's gotta be true because the media is always accurate

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    Joe Cowley was the one who said Noah was going to be a shell of himself and that the problem wouldn't be solved this season, this was written immediately after his surgery.. So yea..

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    Let us know when you reach your 10th birthday.

  • I was not a fan of Doug, but after your first post, I gotta say, bring back Doug. Regurgitating old news and portraying it as new news sickens. me. Why don't you just say, "read the papers, I have nothing to add?"

    But if you are going to have your own thoughts on this blog, they ought to be accurate. Coaches CAN work out players in the summer. What do you think they are doing during Summer Leagues? Where do you think the term "player development" comes from, pray tell? It comes from working out the players in the summer. It's legal. There are rules that govern it.

    Thibodeau's .647 winning percentage and 255-139 record speaks for itself. GarPax should be thanking him for saving their jobs.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    They're not allowed to hold team practices per NBA rules. I admit I could have worded that better, so that'll be changed.

    Thank you for reading!

  • In reply to Morten Stig Jensen:

    Morten, I appreciate your timely response. You have a great responsibility to be accurate about your NBA and Bulls information on this blog.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    Who put the stick up your ass? You don't like the content being offered here, then STFU and go about your merry way. You won't be missed...I promise!!!

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    The stick is out of my ass and I'm going to be you up with it.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    You troll about as effectively as Kirk Hinrich drains wide open jumpers...I bet the chicks just dig you...or not.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    If you don't like the blog, don't read it. Probes solved.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Problem solved. And probes are also solved. ;-)

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I can read this blog if I want and I can get great humor out of the inaccurate information your put on here. Have a great day, Roman.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Oh no, the dreaded typo, although it could be viewed as a humorous double entendre(not unlike relegate vs regulate).

    Thank God that you corrected it immediately before the typo Gestapo had a chance to admonish you and cast aspersions about your schooling and intelligence. As a result, you are still eligible for MENSA membership.

    In fact, there is a rumor sweeping the blogosphere that MENSA will no longer require a typing test for membership. Something about the upkeep on their fleet of Smith-Corona's and Olivetti's becoming prohibitive, as well as the upkeep on their aging fleet of repairmen.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    If you are not a fan, why even visit the blog and post?

  • In reply to Granby:

    lol must be a masochist.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I am a fan but god forbid the facts get in the way of the truth. Hope you have a wonderful day Granby.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    WTF, really on day one, totally uncalled for and likely a good part of the reason that Doug retired.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Why am I not allowed to have my say? Everybody else is saying what they want whether it's factual or not. I might not agree with their facts, I mean, opinions, but they get to write it. I love how people can just spew what they want about other people and their lives as if they really know what they're talking about. It's laughable.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Just as a side note, negative feedback hasn't bothered me in years. It took awhile to develop the thick skin, but you write 4000 or so articles, and you get a lot of negative feedback. Especially on twitter, where people just random reply to your articles like "@dougthonus this is the dumbest thing I've ever read".

    It is unbelievable how much of it you get over time. It probably took me a year or so to get over it, because I'm the type who wants to please everyone all the time, but after awhile you simply become immune to it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    My issue with you is that you can just type away your negative and inaccurate comments when really at the end of the day do you truly know what it takes to coach an NBA team or play in a professional game? Its a great job to be able to criticize and give all the solutions when you've never been in an NBA uniform or sat on the bench Best of luck as you leave this blog...but really, are you?

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    Seriously, it's come to this? No one can give their opinion on basketball unless they've played or coached it at the NBA level? And no one can criticize or opine about the president unless they've been one of those too, right? There's no room for criticism or journalism unless you've earned a special position of worthiness granted to you by some guy or gal named hoopshype24. Why do you appear to devour so much media if you don't even believe it should exist? Start measuring the drapes under a rock somewhere. You'll find plenty of safe opinions there, being that they're all your own. Which is likely really what you're looking for and upset about.

  • How much say does Thibs have in this? Does he have veto power? Say Orlando wants to make a deal that the Bulls love, but Thibs says no I want the Pelicans who offer a junk deal. What happens then? Thibs can't negotiate with a team while under contract, right? How much power does he really have in this?

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Unless it is something like a player contract that makes it assignable to any team, there would be some voice. In any event, you can't make someone work for someone they don't want to, but it appeared that Doc Rivers was willing to work for Sterling for a while. Only real question then would be if Thibs refusing would be construed that he terminated the contract, in which case he would be out 2 years pay.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    It's a good question. Teams can ask for permission, and the Bulls can, and probably will, grant it. But of course he'll have to agree to terms with another team. He can pick and choose to some degree, sure, and then the Bulls will have to take what they can get.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Thibs has plenty of say.

    The Bulls can't trade him, they can only accept compensation for releasing him from his deal. From Thibodeau's perspective, the Bulls are on the hook for nine million.

    If he plays hard ball then they have to waive him. Then they owe him nine million, and he can do whatever he wants.

    I'm not certain on this, because I've read it both ways, but I think it's the case that he can basically get double paid after being waived though it's possible the Bulls can put in something in his contract saying if they buy him out that they don't owe him money if he takes his next job.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    In that they can't trade him, but only release him on consideration seems consistent with today's report.

    However, other than in the Mully and Hanley School of Law, he does not get paid twice. It would be legally impossible for him to work for the Pelicans and earn their money if he were still under contract to the Bulls. He might be released from his coaching duties, but not otherwise released from the contract. That's why you heard stuff with regard to Harbaugh and Fox about a mutual parting of the ways. Short of that, Thibs sits for 2 years.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It's definitely in Thibs' best interest to take another job if it's offered to him.

    If the Bulls are still paying him, they can basically re-assign him to any position they choose. Or suspend him from all duties WITH pay... can you imagine Thibs sitting around doing nothing?

    We all know he has no life outside of basketball, the possibility of having to sit around for two years with no life will probably motivate the hell out of Thibs to take another job while letting Reinsdorf keep his money.

  • Thibs has to go.The way they lost to the Cavs is inexcusable. He's lost the team. He's proven to be more Doug Collins than Phil Jackson.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Agree 100%. Bulls were the superior team, but played not to lose. Pace was too slow. Totally gave up in game 6 when there was lot's of time to make a comeback.

    Thibs totally can't coach in the playoffs! This year was the worst, IMO given Cleveland's injuries, but even the 2012 1st round lost to the 8-seed 76ers was almost as bad. Yes, Rose was hurt, but can't you squeak out 3 more wins against an 8 seed?

  • In reply to Granby:

    Your knowledge of coaching and basketball is inexcusable. All you do is repeat what GarPax have been leaking to the Chicago media. You're funny.

  • In reply to Granby:

    In 2012, I think the team was in shock in game two, then Noah went out too. I'll give the team a pass against the Sixers. Besides, that was a decent Philly team, and when in the playoffs one guy can make that much of a difference. Pacers needed 7 games to get by the Hawks last year and the Hawks struggled with the Nets this year. Imagine if they had lost their best two players along the way.

  • Thibs needs to go. I'm not excited about Hoiberg, but I don't now much about him since I don't spend much time watching Iowa State.

    I would like a coach that calls less plays and has a more free-flowing offense.

    Thibs has had a great record, but this season was a total failure. I get that there were injuries, but when healthy this team had depth. Why not play faster?

    Also, was McDermott that bad that he could not EVER get in a game during the regular season? I would love to see him develop because shooters/scorers like him don't grow on trees. (of course, it remains to be seen if he can score anything like he did in college... I get that.)

  • In reply to Granby:

    The McDermott question is the biggest mystery of the season. I just want to know if he didn't play because he wasn't good enough or because he was a rookie? I'm fine either way, but I would like to know. Is he part of the plan or not?

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    McDNP simply did not look like an NBA athlete. Perhaps, that was a function of being a rookie and needing the game to slow down for him, we can only hope that was the case.

  • I don't know anything about your timing point or if there is squabbling in the front office, but it seems like the miserable exit from the playoffs at least indicates that Thibs isn't the one to get the Bulls to the championship.In that sense it was no different than getting rid of Doug Collins because he could only get the team from Point C to Point B. But nobody has indicated that there is a nascent Phil Jackson out there.

    Some of the commenters and people on the radio have indicated that the solution is to get rid of Gar and Pax, but Jerry's history indicates that isn't going to happen.

  • In reply to jack:

    Outside of not getting along with their hired head coaches, GarPax have a decent record of putting strong rosters together. Yes, Rose fell into their lap, but if he's healthy the last few years, the Bulls are contending for a title in each year. What more can you ask of a GM?

    I my mind, the Asik situation was not great. And, IMO, the Snell pick is wasted, although it's still early. We gave up a ton for McDermott, so next year will tell us a lot about that pick, too.

    It will be interesting to see how GarPax handles the Thibs situation and also the abundance of bigs given that Mirotic needs to play the stretch 4 - or even some 5 and probably NEVER the 3.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Huh? GarPax have a decent record of putting strong rosters together? The team was 389-601 in between Jackson and Thibodeau. WHAT?

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    That wasn't all GarPax, though. I think Paxson started in 2003, which is when they started turning things around. As much as fans hate him now, Hinrich was a great pick (All-Rookie team in on of the best drafts ever) and the first block in the current winning organization. I don't remember when Forman came on board (Thibs hire?) but they have been very solid in the moves they made. It is unrealistic to expect perfect moves every time. How many would have lost their jods for wanting Stephenson over Butler last year? Or thought Beasley was a can't miss? I remember fans going crazy over guys like jeremy Lamb and Xavier Henry.
    I'm worried about managements inability to get along with their coaching hires and I'm worried that Hoidberg or Griffen would be nothing more than yes men, but I don't think you can say they haven't been solid.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I think they've been solid, just not great. The coaching thing isn't the kind of thing they should get more than one more shot at, if that.

  • In reply to hoopshype24:

    Those Bulls missed the playoffs twice under Gar/Pax, and one of those years was the year after they averaged 25 wins for six seasons and were in cap hell.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Rose, injured or uninjured couldn't take care of Dellavedova; LeBron has always had Rose defensively, and the Bulls couldn't come back on the Cavs who were short Irving and Love. Somehow, that doesn't sound like a strong roster.

  • In reply to jack:

    No, Jerry is not going to get rid of Pax and Pax is not going to get rid of Gar. Easier to get rid of the coach.

    Why do owners hold on to top management until teams hit rock bottom? Like the Bulls did under Krause. Give credit to Bears owner for cleaning house before the team went 1-15. Trust me, there are more capable managers out there than GarPax. Pax has proven to be a loose cannon who can't maintain decent relationships with coaches.

    If the Bulls hire a stooge like Adrian Griffin you know this is an inept organization. Alvin Gentry would be a good choice.

  • Any coach hire this year, besides Pop or Rivers, will likely set the Bulls back. I think Thibs is not a perfect coach, but besides Pop and Rivers, I don't know any other proven coach that can take this Bulls to the next level (Steve K. may be the next one on the list with the Warriors). With this team, the best chance is still stick with Thibs and hire an offense minded assistance Coach. Everybody knows it. A Thibs replacement is a clear message to the fans that the Bulls are not chasing the title next year. A Thibs with the same roster, plus Rose being back a superstar is the best chance to win next year.

  • This breakup has been a long time in the making probably ever since Gar's little napoleonesque power trip when he fired Thibs right hand man Ron Adams.

    I am growing tired of GarPax and their petty power trips. Guess that is why they are looking for a spineless yes man as their next Head Coach. Personally I would rather see GarPax finally get the axe than see Thibs walk. But seems like its too toxic for that scenario to work either. Perhaps all three going would be best...

    Although I must confess to being a longstanding GarPax hater so my views on the situation are tainted. I think they can switch coaches all they want IMO they are the problem. They are negative people and they create a toxic environment over and over and over. Look at every coach they have hired from Paxson chocking his hand picked guy Vinny Del Negro to firing Skiles on Christmas Day to Gar and the longstanding feud with Thibs including their firing of his top assistant Ron Adams. It is really ridiculous!!! What other organization in the NBA has this issue??? None because its completely stupid.

  • Many arguments can be made to get rid of Paxson and Forman, but Reinsdorf won't do it so why belabor the point.

    I can't believe there are Thibs defenders still here. Thibs has been here for 5 years AND HE STILL CAN'T COACH OFFENSE. And can you really bring back Thibs with the way the team plodded through the season and ended with a thud. Thibs stood on the sidelines like a dope while his team quit.

    The heat is on GarPax now. They obviously want Hoidberg. If they don't get him that would be yet another miss of a prime target just like LeBron, Wade, Bosh & Carmelo. Good luck selling the fan base on 3 times fired Alvin Gentry or the man who tutored under the coach you hate.

  • best of luck Morten!

  • Just a side note. I read on Real GM today that Andres Nocioni was voted MVP of the Euroleague Final Four. Why this should be of interest to Bulls fans, aside from Nocioni being a former Bull, is that this award gives us a view of the perceived quality of Euroleague play.

    Nocioni, at this stage of his career, would be an aging marginal player on an NBA team, assuming anyone would want him. He is essentially a tweener and was never a lights-out shooter. And yet he is the MVP of the tournament? Similarly, Rudy Fernandez, an aging perimeter player is probably the most popular player in the ACB (Spanish) league- often mentioned as the best pro league in Europe. Fernandez's play was very inconsistent his last two years in the NBA and he opted to go back to Spain.

    As you may know, Niko struggled his last two Euroleague tournaments. Just as he struggled in this year's playoffs. Let's not anoint him as an all-star yet.

  • If anyone hasn't, you should read Dan Bernstein's article on, he's a dick but he's always been solid on sources from the Bulls and he's got people telling him Rose and Butler aren't on the greatest of terms specifically Rose in regards to Butler... I'd link the article but I forget if we're allowed to do that here? You're big boys you know how to use google. Regardless, this reaffirms the need to get rid of Thibs and get an oxygen breathing human being in there who can deal better with issues that transcend x's and o's. If someone already mentioned this I apologize.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    Wow. Maybe there is truth to the article given that pathetic performance. I would have never guessed. If the conflict can't be resolved I'd trade Rose in a heart beat. I've always been a big supporter but enough with his injuries and drama. Boston would love a star and they have a lot of picks over the next few years.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Yeah it's gotta be true because all the unnamed sources in the article make it very credible as well as the quotes from Butler and Rose themselves. Oh wait, the reporter didnt get comments from either of them but went with the story anyway.
    And Rose would be so easy to trade in a heartbeat because his health is a sure thing and so many teams have the flexibility to take over his contract.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    Mike Wilbon says that there is a rift between Butler & Rose are totally allegations are totally false. I don't know, but I take anything Bernstein says with a grain of salt, because he is wrong as often as right. His agenda is, & always has been self promotion.

  • Yea, I just read the article. Not sure if this is a real rift or just a journalist with nothing else to discuss as the Bulls season is over, but interesting nonetheless:

  • I would say if true, bring back Thibs as he has shown he can get the most out of not so elite point guards and get rid of Rose and see what we can get back for him while Noah takes a bench role.

  • Rose and Taj in a three-way trade?

  • Put yourself in Rose’s shoes. You are the number one pick, the MVP, the savior for a city and then you have to fight through injuries for a couple years. When you get back, you’re no longer one of the best two players on your team. I saw there were times during the season when Rose was selfish and trying to overcompensate, and if you look it from his view it’s understandable. Both him and Butler feel like they have so much to prove and I think it led to both of them focusing on the wrong things and playing selfish these playoffs.

  • For all those that say Tibs must go, listen to this and get educated

Leave a comment