Bulls

Tom Thibodeau dismissed as Bulls head coach

tomthibodeaubullsslide.png

Tom Thibodeau dismissed as Bulls head coach

In what seemed to be a foregone conclusion, the Bulls announced the firing of coach Tom Thibodeau after five seasons in Chicago.

The 2011 NBA Coach of the Year had a record of 255-139 during his tenure, including a trip to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals that resulted in a five-game loss to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Only Erik Spoelstra, Gregg Popovich and Scott Brooks had more wins during that time, which for Thibodeau was marked by controversy and friction between himself and the front office.

It was alluded to in a statement from Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

[MORE BULLS: Breakdown in communication seemed to play a part in Thibodeau's firing]

“The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court," Reinsdorf said. "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. 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.”

[MORE BULLS: Fred Hoiberg leading candidate to replace Tom Thibodeau]

Thibodeau brought a hoarse voice, dogged preparation and a defensive intensity from his days as a Boston Celtics assistant coach, the mastermind of a team that won the 2008 title and took the Los Angeles Lakers to the final minutes of a Game 7 two years later.

Thibodeau put his stamp on the Bulls' franchise from the moment he arrived, but had to deal with short-handed teams that dealt with injuries year after year, starting with Derrick Rose's blown-out knee in the 2012 playoffs.

This season was long thought to be the last stand for Thibodeau, who had two years on his contract but had a seemingly championship-ready roster with the addition of Pau Gasol and the return of Rose after the former MVP missed nearly two full years with injury.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

But it seemed to be a microcosm of Thibodeau's time, where the Bulls went through the season barely seeing their starting five on the floor and not putting enough consistency together to vault them to true championship conversation.

Thibodeau's voice seemed to wane with his team this year, one marked by minute restrictions, up-and-down intensity and a disappointing ending in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a six-game loss to the Finals-bound Cleveland Cavaliers.

And the discord between he and Gar Forman and John Paxson always seemed to be swirling in the background, bubbling to the foreground on several occasions this season.

"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,” Forman said. “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."

And now the Bulls will be on the hunt for a coach to take them to the next level, with many expecting Iowa State head coach and former Bull Fred Hoiberg to become the next coach.

Check out the video below as Goodwill joined Thursday's Kap and Haugh Show to discuss the Bulls' firing of Thibodeau:

Five observations from Bulls' preseason, including Zach LaVine's focus

lavine_thumb.jpg
USA Today

Five observations from Bulls' preseason, including Zach LaVine's focus

The Bulls blew through four preseason games in seven days, a pace coach Jim Boylen acknowledged by resting his starters for one.

But now it gets real. Wendell Carter Jr. made his debut Sunday in Toronto after sitting the first three games with a bruised tailbone, but the second-year big man only played first-half minutes.

Thursday’s preseason finale at the United Center against the Hawks is an opportunity to extend minutes, set rotations and square off against a young, rebuilding team looking to make a similar jump. Here’s what the Bulls’ preseason has shown so far:

Zach LaVine is playing with a proper edge

The preternaturally gifted scorer often is accused of being an empty calories player, spouting empty words. Those who are around LaVine on a daily basis see his work ethic and care factor and say otherwise.

LaVine has made no secret of his desire to represent the Bulls at the 2020 All-Star game at the United Center. But through three games---he sat with the other starters last Friday in Indiana---he isn’t trying to get there with a head-down, selfish approach.

LaVine has shown leadership, an improved commitment at the defensive end and his 23.3 points in 23 minutes proves he still scores in bunches. Boylen deserves some of the credit for LaVine’s focus, challenging him to be a better two-way player. Veteran Thaddeus Young also has been in LaVine’s ear. But LaVine put in the work and is playing like a man on a mission.

Coby White is fearless

The first-round pick said all the right things about playing with confidence when the Bulls used the No. 7 selection on him. But so many 19-year-olds have uttered similar sentiments and then looked overwhelmed.

White isn’t that. His speed and scoring ability have demanded a rotational role. And who cares if he’s not a point guard yet, with just five assists in 105 minutes? His ability to push the ball and play off it will be critical for a second unit that will feature the defensive-minded Kris Dunn.

White still needs to eliminate his tendency to take long 2-pointers and learn to finish better. And the point guard knowledge needs to come eventually. But for now, unleash him and let his athleticism do the trick.

Boylen and the Bulls are playing like a modern NBA team

In the three games the regulars have played, the Bulls have attempted 38, 37 and 49 3-pointers. The 49 3-pointers versus the Raptors would’ve represented a franchise, regular-season record.

After taking over for the fired Fred Hoiberg last season, Boylen drew widespread criticism for his publicly stated plan to slow down the offense and build it back up with proper fundamentals. Furthermore, last season’s roster, particularly down the stretch as the Bulls fielded gloried G League lineups, didn’t lend itself to perimeter shooting.

The additions of Tomas Satoransky, Luke Kornet and White help. So does a more versatile roster with multiple ballhandlers. This approach isn’t going away this season.

Carter needs to stay on the court

The defensive-minded big man consistently draws praise from coaches and teammates for his communication skills and ability to read the court. There also are raves for his offensive potential.

However, it’s getting to the point where the Bulls need to see it consistently, not talk about it. Between thumb surgery limiting him to 44 games in an otherwise promising rookie season and now Carter showing some rust---and some nice plays---Sunday in Toronto, consistency and reliability needs to follow.

After all, Carter never fully mastered the art of avoiding foul trouble last season. His interior defense and rim protection will be critical for a team challenged in both areas.

The Bulls need to broaden Lauri Markkanen's offensive game

The good news is Markkanen shot 44.4 percent from 3-point range in three games. The bad news is over half of Markkanen’s shots have come from behind the arc.

Markkanen is too talented---and too much a matchup nightmare---to be relegated to a spot-up shooter. During his dominant February stretch last season, Markkanen displayed a dribble, drag-step move that seemed unguardable. Offseason talk centered on his bulking up for more post play.

This is where Markkanen’s rebounding is so essential. He has the ability to push the ball up the court himself. There’s nothing wrong with Markkanen shooting 3-pointers. But he’s at his best in motion, with multiple offensive options at his disposal.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Guest Ricky O’Donnell on the future with Zach LaVine

lavine-1015.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Guest Ricky O’Donnell on the future with Zach LaVine

Kevin Anderson is joined by SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to talk Zach LaVine and the Bulls preseason.

0:55 - On Zach LaVine’s preseason and if he is the true star on this Bulls team

3:00 - What should we expect from LaVine this season?

4:45 - LaVine’s true ceiling is…

7:00 - Can LaVine be a top-3 scorer in the NBA?

9:15 - Concerns over Lauri Markkanen

12:40 - On the LaVine and Lauri 2-man game

15:50 - Ricky explains why he’s optimistic on the Bulls

17:25 - On Bulls depth and White vs. Dunn in rotation

21:15 - Expectations for Bulls win total this season

24:00 - Are Raptors likely to make the postseason?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

Subscribe: