The Chicago Bulls fired head coach Tom Thibodeau on May 28 after five seasons with the team.
The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Thibodeau leaves the Bulls with two years and $9 million left on his contract. ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell's sources told him the Bulls are confident they won't have to pay him the bulk of his contract in the event another team hires him due to "set-off provisions" in coaches' deals.
Thibodeau issued a statement to the fans, per The Chicago Tribune:
"I want to thank, and will deeply miss, our incredible fans and the entire city of Chicago. I also want to thank my staff and all of the talented players and their wonderful families who have honored me and the Bulls by their effort, love, dedication and professionalism.
"I appreciate the opportunity that Jerry Reinsdorf gave me. We are proud of our many accomplishments, fought through adversity, and tried to give our fans the full commitment to excellence they deserve.
"I love this game and am excited about what's ahead for me with USA Basketball and the next coaching opportunity in the NBA."
Forman told the Bulls official website he and management felt the team needed a change moving forward:
"When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach. But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed."
Forman told ESPN Chicago management reached a decision on Thibodeau on Wednesday evening and informed him the next morning. Thibodeau arrived at the Bulls' practice facility, the Advocate Center, at noon ET and left 45 minutes after he received the news.
Bulls guard and 2014-15 NBA Most Improved Player Jimmy Butler, who was also at the practice facility, "declined comment as he drove away," per ESPN Chicago.
He confirmed to The Chicago Tribune the Bulls also fired assistant coach Andy Greer on Thursday. The next head coach will determine the fate of the remaining members of Thibodeau's staff.
Thibs had the Bulls moving in the right direction initially but things changed. A different leader on the sidelines became necessary.— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) May 28, 2015
Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also chimed in on Thibodeau's dismissal, per the team's official website:
"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 one 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.
"Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future."
For his part, Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson admitted to The Chicago Tribune "there was a breakdown" in the relationship between Thibodeau and management:
"You have to have a situation where you are all pulling in the same direction. Once that stops, it's very difficult to move forward.
"We probably wouldn't be sitting here if we won a championship.
"Relationships are difficult. But there has to be a situation with open dialogue, where there are no barriers. You should be able to ask any question, push the envelope. That's what relationships should be about. Obviously there was a breakdown."
According to The Chicago Tribune update, the first sign of palpable tension between the two sides occurred more than two years ago when Thibodeau stalled on the contract extension Forman dangled in Oct. 2012.
Forman initially ruled it a lawyer issue, but league sources told The Chicago Tribune Thibodeau was unhappy about losing Kyle Korver and Omer Asik.
This season, the feud reached a boiling point with players' minutes being the point of contention. Bulls management wanted Thibodeau not to overplay Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who were both coming off knee surgeries. Thibodeau, who is a stickler for practice and repetition, balked at the suggestion, per The Chicago Tribune.
Thibodeau is seen as a strong candidate for both the New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic head coaching vacancies. However, sources told The Chicago Tribune that Scott Skiles is still the preferred candidate of the Magic.
As for the Bulls' next head coach, Forman told The Chicago Sun-Times' Herb Gould on Thursday the team's ideal candidate is "a leader, who has great communication skills, who's got an excellent knowledge of the game of basketball, someone that's an open and creative learner."
Both The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times reports say former Bulls player and current Iowa State Cyclones head men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg is the leading candidate to call the shots for the team.
Thibodeau, the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year, had a 255-139 (.647) win-loss record in his five-year stint with the Chicago Bulls, per ESPN Chicago.
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