Typed it out as quick as I could. Here’s the general paraphrasing of the press conference with Tom Thibodeau and Gar Forman. All answers/questions are from Tom unless otherwise noted. Discuss offense:
Offense will start with defense and rebounding to get into the open floor and get easy baskets. After that flow into a secondary action after that we’ll go into different sets to take advantage of the personnel we have. It’s hard to tell exactly where that will be without knowing who we add this summer. I’ll be looking at film all summer to evaluate the strengths of the team. When you measure yourself against conference finalists, you see they’re good on both ends of the floor, so that’s what we’re going to strive for.
Difference in being in charge vs previous roles
As a head coach you’re making the final decision versus the suggestions. The job of the assistant is to keep making suggestions. I’ve been fortunate to work for great coaches, did they use all of my suggestions? No, but I think that’s the biggest difference.
What was it like taking a break in the middle of the finals run to discuss with the Bulls?
Celtic organization was awesome and very supportive, I can’t say enough about everyone there. Danny and Doc were great guys and had trust that I would not jeopardize playing the Lakers. My first priority was trying to win the title, but we came up short. When you work for a classy organization like the Celtics, they knew of my dreams and aspirations and allowed me to pursue them.
Can you talk about some of the current Bulls?
I haven’t gotten a chance to go through a lot of tape yet, so I’m basing it largely on what they did when playing us. Derrick Rose is a very special player, comes at you with a full head of steam. He needs to be a leader of this team, and a big part of his growth needs to come on the defensive end. A lot of the stuff we ask him to do he’s going to have to work on every day.
Of course I just love Joakim. If you look at the things he brings to the table, passion, energy, rebounding, improvement. He’s done a great job with his free throws. Very underrated passer. Makes other people better, plays to win, like to see him continue to get stronger will be terrific with post defense, can front or play behind in the post. Has to be a leader because he’s behind the defense. Has to be vocal and anchor our defense. I’d like to see him continue to develop his post game, but he’s come a long way.
Taj Gibson really impressed me with the type of defense he played as a rookie.
I’ve always admired Kirk Hinrich due to his versatility. Plays hard, can defend 3 positions and play either guard spot on offense or even SF.
Loul Deng is one of the more underrated players in the league because he does so much off the ball. You have to constantly pay attention to him. He’s in constant motion. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways with slashing, post up, spot up. The corner 3 is a good shot for him, I’d like to continue to see him working on it.
Did you think the lack of playing in the league would get in your way as a chance to become an NBA coach?
All different routes to make it as a coach. There’s no real rhyme or reason to why a guy gets a chance. When a team feels comfortable with you and thinks you’re the right fit you get a chance.
A lot was made about going after a coach with previous head coaching experience what makes you think Tom is ready?
We never said that. A lot was made about us wanting a coach with head coaching experience. (got distracted but some more stuff about how great Tom was and how he blew them away)
How did the Bulls sell you on the decision to come to Chicago?
I had two other opportunities with great franchises, but I thought this was the best fit for me due to the personnel already in place and the positioning for long term planning that they’ve done. We can be a great defensive team, get into the open floor. We have a PG and C to build around. Chicago is a special place, I’ve coached in NY and Boston, the players feel great coming here, great fans, great support.
How will your relationship with players change moving from assistant to head coach?
It will change because it’s a different role. You’re in charge of minutes and shots. I’ve been given a lot of experience in the past though, and I’ve coached under a lot of great coaches so I’ve seen everything. Championship runs, expansion, rebuilding etc..
Have you thought about coaching LeBron James?
Can’t talk about free agency. I’ve thought about the guys we have.
How prepared are you for the media pressure given you weren’t allowed to speak to the media in Boston?
It’s great, it’s challenging when you go from being an assistant to a head coach that’s part of the job. In Boston I couldn’t talk to the media, but that wasn’t part of the policy at other stops.
How does personnel play a part in your defense vs the commitment?
Well obviously personnel plays a big part in it. We had great personnel in Boston (names players), and we had great commitment and buy in by the veterans. So obviously personnel is important, but they have to buy in.
What will you tell the team in terms of expectations when you address the team?
We have to start off setting a tone and setting our goals. We have to talk about who we’re going to be. Five things we’re going to emphasize right away: Defensive team, rebounding team, low turnover team, inside out team, and unselfish team. We need to establish a championship attitude right from the start in our work habits and how we comport ourselves
Who is Tom Thibodeau?
I’m a serious minded coach. I’ll be well prepared. Give the team a good plan. I’m fair. I want to have great relationships with players and build an environment they feel comfortable with. I want it to be serious, but enjoyable. When they take the court they will feel they have a good plan.
How soon will your staff be finalized?
That depends. I have a lot of well qualified people I want to talk to, but some are still under contract. I want to put an emphasis on teaching.
Do you feel you have a better handle on this team due to the playoff series two years ago?
It helps, but I think you need to go through the last season and study everyone hard.
Can you give us a quick synopsis of what you’d tell FAs when recruiting?
There’s a lot to sell here. The rich tradition, great city, great young nucleous to build around. I can’t imagine why any FA wouldn’t seriously consider this team.
Is there something about you that you think may help lure FAs? Do you think it helps for the coach to share an agent with a top FA?
The agency I’ve choosen is quite a large agency. The person who I deal with, Terry Prince, handles the coaches. How we’ll attract free agents, again, the players look at the franchise, the organization, the coaches, the players, and all aspects, and we have a lot to offer.
Is your main goal tomorrow night to improve the team through financial flexibility?
That’s one of the things we look at. There’s a lot of angles we can go. In regards to the pick, our plan is to use the pick. We think we’re going to get a good player with that pick unless we can make something significant happen.
Is this the second time you’ve been interested in Tom?
Last time we weren’t allowed to interview with Tom in the middle of the championship run. As we entered this search again, in the first week, we gathered an enormous amount of information on a lot of candidates. The very first person I called was Tom about 5-6 days into the process. A couple times we set something up, but his schedule changed because of the playoff run. As soon as we got a chance to sit down with Tom it was natural. We think it’s a perfect fit for where we want to go and with our personnel
Can you talk about your support group?
My family is a great support system for me, my parents, a couple brothers, I have some niece and a couple nephews you’ll see. I have a lot of friends that I’m very close with. Doc, JVG, a lot of coaches I can draw from and some of the people here. Pete Myers who I’ve coached in New York. Ron Adams who we hope will join us shortly. Mo Cheeks who is one of my best friends.