Bulls

Tom Thibodeau, on Bulls firing: 'I have no regrets'

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Tom Thibodeau, on Bulls firing: 'I have no regrets'

Tom Thibodeau spoke publicly for the first time since being fired by the Bulls last week, telling ESPN's "Mike and Mike" he has no regrets about the five years he spent in Chicago.

Thibodeau, who replaced Vinny Del Negro in 2010, admitted that friction existed between him and the Bulls front office - namely GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson - but wanted to focus on the positive aspects of his tenure, which included 255 regular-season victories, five playoff appearances, Derrick Rose earning league MVP honors in 2011 and Joakim Noah winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

"It was a great experience for me. I loved our players. I loved my staff," he said. "Derrick (Rose) going down was a big hit for us. He missed a major part of four seasons. We really had him for one year when he had the MVP season and that was huge for us. We lost a lot of other guys along the way. But the team always found a way. Sometimes I sat there and I didn’t know how. They did an incredible job. They fought through that adversity. We made the playoffs every year. We gave it our best shot and fell short at the end.

"I’m going to move on. I look forward to the next opportunity.”

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The rift between the two sides was well-documented long before Thibodeau and the Bulls parted way. But Thibodeau said he didn't believe any of the tension from the front office to limit players' minutes and/or rest players down the stretch in the regular season had any effect on how the Bulls performed under him.

"If you allow yourself to be distracted, you’re going to be distracted by other things as well. As players and coaches, you’re going to hear things all the time whether it’s trades or being fired or whatever it might be. I think the important thing is to lock into what you have to do each day, put everything you have into it and then you let the results speak for themselves."

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The Bulls replaced Thibodeau with Fred Hoiberg, who was officially announced as the head coach on Tuesday. Hoiberg's up-tempo offensive philosophies are a stark contrast from what Thibodeau preached - defense - in Chicago, and he admitted moving forward he'll continue to evaluate and reflect on his coaching tendencies, leaving open the possibility of change wherever he winds up. As of now Thibodeau has not been publicly linked to the Denver Nuggets job, the only current opening in the NBA.

"There are some things you may not change but you always want to add, evolve. I think the big thing is to study and prepare and try to do it better the next time. There’s a lot of things that I learned from the experience. I learned from all my experiences."

Learning from those experiences earlier and adapting to the front office's desires may have saved Thibodeau's job, but he has no regrets about his time as he searches for his next stop.

"It was a great run," he said. "I just move on."

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

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USA TODAY

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

Over the last couple seasons we've had some fun on our Bulls Pregame Live shows with the ever-changing cast of characters at the point guard position. We even brought the point guard roulette wheel to the show a couple years ago when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne all saw significant time at the position.

Grant began last season as the starter, followed by Kris Dunn and Payne with a little Ryan Arcidiacono mixed in.

But this season was supposed to be different. Dunn showed enough in his 52 game stint (13.4 points, 6 assists per game) in 2017-18 that he entered training camp as the unquestioned starter, with Payne and Arcidiacono as backups. The front office and coaching staff expected the 3rd year guard out of Providence to establish himself as a quality starter with elite skills at the defensive end.

Now, after playing just one regular season game, Dunn has been sidelined again, this time with a sprained left MCL suffered in his debut at Dallas Monday night. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action, which should get him back on the court sometime in early December, right about the same time Lauri Markkanen is expected to return from his elbow injury.

So, what does Fred Hoiberg do now? Initially, you can expect Payne to replace Dunn in the starting lineup, with newly signed Shaq Harrison getting a look in the backup role. In case you don't know much about Harrison, he's an undrafted four-year player out of Tulsa, who spent most of the last two seasons in the NBA G-League. Like Dunn, Harrison is a physical 6'4" defense-first player who should be able to pressure some of the elite point guards the Bulls will face in the coming weeks. The front office showed their level of interest in Harrison's potential by signing him to a two-year NBA contract which includes a guaranteed salary for this season.

The Bulls also signed former Marian Catholic H.S. star Tyler Ulis to a two-way contract after he was released by Golden State in the final cutdown. Ulis started 58 games for Phoenix over the last two seasons, and is lightning quick in the open court. Problem is, he's generously listed at 5'10" which could create some serious issues at the defensive end.

And then there's always Arcidiacono, a Hoiberg favorite who's fundamentally sound, a solid defender and a decent outside shooter. Arcidiacono didn't play in Dallas Monday with Dunn back as the starter and it will be interesting to see how he's used with the coaching staff searching for answers at the position.

From my perspective, the Bulls' best option might be not going with a point guard at all in the starting lineup. Zach LaVine is on the hottest offensive streak of his young career, and he's most effective with the ball in his hands. LaVine played a lot of point guard during his rookie season in Minnesota, and he's more than capable of pushing the ball in transition.

Yes, I know having LaVine defend some of the high-scoring point guards around the league is not an ideal formula for success. The Bulls could move Justin Holiday to the shooting guard position, and see if he can match up defensively against opposing point guards. Again, not ideal.

The Bulls will be facing the likes of Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Steph Curry and Chris Paul over the next week and a half, and going without a true point guard might create defensive issues that are impossible to overcome. That's why you should expect to see Harrison take on a significant role in the upcoming games, since he's the only point guard currently available on the roster that has the physical skills to replicate in some fashion what Dunn brings on the defensive end.

Any way you look at it, the Bulls will be in survival mode over the next six weeks, trying to scratch out as many wins as they can until Markkanen and Dunn are healthy enough to get back on the court.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

Kelly Crull, Mark Strotman and Will Perdue react to the news that Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

[MORE: It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel]

00:55     Strotman reacting to the injury, expectations now for team

3:00        Perdue on impact on defense

4:55        Expectation on who will get majority of minutes moving forward at PG

7:40        Where Bulls are mentally as a team 

11:30     How Hoiberg will approach the options at point guard

12:55     Will the Bulls consider tanking again?

14:50     Making the case for LaVine to run point with Blakeney at the 2

16:05     How Dunn’s injury could impact Markkanen’s return

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: