It may not be in Tom Thibodeau’s hands entirely, but if he had his choice, would he rather stay in Chicago and try to finish the job with the Bulls, or would he rather go to New Orleans and try to build a championship contender with a young superstar in Anthony Davis?
“Oh boy, that’s a great question,” Bleacher Report NBA analyst Ric Bucher said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I feel as if the situation in Chicago is not salvageable at this point. Short of a different front office or a meeting of the minds, the feeling in the front office is that Thibodeau has ground this team to dust and has been very inflexible in trying to change the way he approaches things.”
Every coach, of course, has his own style. Thibodeau’s style is built on defense, toughness and never giving an inch – even on the second night of a back-to-back in January. After five years, that can take a toll on a team.
It certainly appeared to take a toll in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bulls won Game 1 in Cleveland and won Game 3 on a buzzer-beater by Derrick Rose, but they dropped Games 4 and 5 and had nothing left in the tank for Game 6, losing 94-73.
LeBron James wasn’t dominant in the clincher, either. Granted, he fell one rebound shy of a triple-double, but he scored just 15 points on 7-of-23 shooting.
It didn’t matter. The Bulls allowed Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova to score 45 points, in Chicago, with their season on the line.
It was stunning.
“To be honest, looking at the way they played the other night – I know what Derrick Rose said about the uncertainty about Thibodeau didn’t impact their play,” Bucher said, “(but) how can it not? I just don’t see how you can give 100 percent belief in a guy (who you know could be fired at the end of the season). Or maybe it’s simply they got tired of hearing (his message). He kept the pedal to the metal and they finally just couldn’t respond anymore. I don’t remember a team that has a Derrick Rose and a Joakim Noah and a guy like Jimmy Butler on the floor that gave in the way the Bulls did the other night.
“I would think that in a perfect world that Tibs would like to stay where he is,” Bucher continued. “He knows what he has in Derrick Rose. He knows what he has in Jimmy Butler. I know Derrick Rose has stood firmly by Tibs and you’re only going a little bit into the unknown, but I just feel it’s really a decision for Thibodeau between do I want to go to Orlando or do I want to go to New Orleans? And all of the factors – including how much authority he might be able to gain in New Orleans and having a bona fide superstar like Anthony Davis – I would say it’s a pretty easy choice.”