Chicago fans and everyone else knew the event was coming, and it did. The Chicago Bulls have fired Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls Announced Thibodeau's firing in the meanest way possible.
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's comments on the firing aren't merely scathing, they also give the appearance of trying to undermine Thibs' coaching career prospects:
"The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals.
While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone's ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private.
Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together.
Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture.
To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required.
If reports are accurate, it gets worse. After "thanking" Thibodeau, Reinsdorf said he "respected his love of the game," and then security was charged to escort the former Bulls coach from the United Center just as soon as he packed his things.
"Bye Tom, thanks Tom... SECURITY!"
Holy Smokes Batman! Not much love for a guy with the 6th highest winning percentage of qualifying coaches in NBA history.
The declining relationship between Thibs and the Bulls front office is well documented, but this feels more like a public assassination rather than a change in direction.
Reinsdorf firing Thibs was not a coup d'etat. To prepare Bulls fans for the inevitable, the path to this firing has been paved for months and maybe even years. The rift between management and coach may have started when the Bulls did not retain Ron Adams after the 2013 season. It was an inexplicable front office move that supposedly did not sit well with Thibodeau and served as a glaring red flag that Bulls management was more than willing to trespass into what is normally deemed head coaching territory.
So where exactly does all this leave Tom Thibodeau? I mean, other than $9 million richer over the next two years and finding his summer calendar suddenly clear?
Obviously his name will pop up in all the usual places with current NBA head coaching jobs available. Orlando, Denver, and New Orleans need head coaches right away. Even teams that already have coaches might be willing to jettison them in order to grab Thibs. In researching this post I saw an article declaring the Lakers should fire Byron Scott and pursue Thibodeau.
The problem with the rumor mill is that it is generally focused on what fans and media types want to happen. The real question is, what does Tom Thibodeau want right now?
His dismissal doesn't carry the same financial ramifications as is does for the average working stiff that has to get right back out there, or else. His contract gives him two years to work with although the Bulls did his reputation no favors leading up this firing. Former Thunder head coach Scott Brooks has decided to take the year left on his contract to reconnect with family and look into other options. Tom Thibodeau may very well do something similar.
When Brooks was dismissed, he left OKC wearing a white hat, ego bruised, but reputation intact. Thibs was fired, publicly scorned, and then escorted out of the United Center by security. Definitely not the strongest position to be working from when entering negotiations for a new head coaching job.
After what can be assumed was a stressful 24 months since the Adams dismissal, could there be a possibility that Thibodeau doesn't want to step back into the head coaching fire immediately? Possibly for multiple reasons?
Denver has an opening, but they fired George Karl in 2013 after leading a team with no All-Stars to the 3rd seed and league-best home record in the brutally competitive Western Conference.
Orlando has an opening and plenty of young talent with which to work, but they have long had difficulty keeping top talent in town.
New Orleans has an opening, but they fired Monty Williams after getting the team to the playoffs for the first time in 4 years. That wouldn't be too bad unless you consider this:
Ownership gave GM Dell Demps and Monty Williams preseason mandate to make playoffs to keep jobs, w/ no allowance for injuries. They made it.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 16, 2015