Bulls

What does the future hold for Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau?

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What does the future hold for Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau?

If Tom Thibodeau has coached his last game with the Bulls, as season-long rumors suggest, nobody has broken the news to him.

Following Thursday's season-ending loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Thibodeau was asked if he expects to be back with the Bulls next season.

“Until they tell me I’m not, I expect to be here,” Thibodeau said.

Dating back to last year, reports surfaced of a rift between Thibodeau and the Bulls' front office. Thibodeau, the NBA Coach of the Year in 2011, has two years and nearly $9 million left on his current contract with the Bulls.

[MORE BULLS: Lifeless Bulls fall to Cavaliers in series-clincher]

And the likelihood of the 57-year-old Thibodeau on the bench with a different team next fall appears to be very high, according to ESPN's Mark Stein.

As one source close to the situation puts it: "Thibs is gone. They know it and he knows it."

Both the New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic are expected to be leading suitors for Thibodeau's services. If the Bull don't fire Thibodeau outright, they could try to work out a trade with another club. The last NBA coach to be dealt was back in 2013 when the Boston Celtics sent Doc Rivers to the Boston Celtics for an unprotected 2015 first round draft selection, which will likely be the type of compensation the Bulls will be seeking in any trade of Thibodeau.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

If Thibodeau isn't back in Chicago next season, it won't be because the lack of support from his players.

“Me and Thibs really grew a relationship,” Derrick Rose said. "I don't mind him as a coach."

Added Taj Gibson: "I'm a big Tom Thibodeau supporter. Everybody in this locker room has gotten better from just being around him the last couple years."

For more reaction and discussion on Thibodeau's uncertain future in Chicago check out the video from Friday's Kap & Haugh Show below:

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.