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:

Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

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USA Today

Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

In case you forgot, Jim Boylen once worked for Rudy Tomjanovich. In fact, the former Rockets coach gave Boylen his NBA start, hiring him as an assistant coach and video coordinator way back in 1992.

Boylen saw first-hand the coaching chops and commitment Tomjanovich displayed as the Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles while Michael Jordan was playing baseball in the mid-1990s. So it's beyond loyalty when Boylen says he believes, like many others, that Tomjanovich belongs in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The organization named Tomjanovich a finalist over All-Star weekend in Chicago.

[RELATED: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett highlight Hall of Fame finalists]

"He's deserving," Boylen said. "I don't know why he's not in there yet. It doesn't make sense to me. Two championships, a gold medal."

That's a reference to Tomjanovich coaching USA Basketball's gold-medal winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Tomjanovich is an occasional visitor to the Advocate Center to watch Boylen.

"What he did with those Rockets teams and his playoff games — sixth seed in '95 — nobody's duplicated that. To win it from the sixth seed, play on the road like we did," Boylen said. "He has an unbelievable record in elimination games, which I think is a true test of your coaching and being able to communicate your message. I think he's getting in."

Does Boylen possess inside information?

"No," Boylen said, smiling. "He's due."

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Injury notes: Latest on Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn

Injury notes: Latest on Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn

Jim Boylen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. spent the majority of their time speaking to media after the team’s first post-All-Star break practice laying a trail of injury-related tea leaves.

Carter has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain since Jan. 6, and Porter hasn’t played since spraining his foot on Nov. 6. Both took part in practice (which featured “some contact” according to Boylen) and are inching closer to respective returns, though nothing is official as of yet.

"Otto participated in practice and got his legs underneath him. Wendell, we kinda put him in for two possessions, then take him out for two and kinda getting him back comfortable," Boylen said.

“Just taking it one day at a time,” said Carter, who said on the Friday of All-Star weekend that he was shooting for a return this Thursday (Feb. 20) against the Hornets. “I practiced today and it felt okay, so I'm just taking it slow. Don't want to rush anything, and end up hurting again, so that's where I'm at right now.

“Depending on the coaching staff, depending on how I'm feeling come game time, of course I want to play Thursday, but I'm [going to] do what's best for the team and for myself."

Boylen declined to say officially whether Carter will be available Thursday, also taking a “we’ll see” approach. Carter is about six weeks into his initial four-to-six week recovery timeline.

Porter, who said he’s “close” to 100 percent, doesn’t yet know when he’ll be back and that “time will tell” how many practices he needs before sliding back into the Bulls’ lineup. He remains without a timetable, and said he is unsure if he’ll be eased back in on a minutes restriction when he is able to return.

“I was able to do everything. I feel good,” Porter said. “I’ll continue it a day at a time, making sure my pain is free."

When asked, Boylen said he doesn’t yet have a clear idea of when Lauri Markkanen (who has been out with a pelvis injury since Jan. 24) might return to practice. This Friday marks four weeks into Markkanen’s initial four-to-six week timeline

There was also no update on Kris Dunn on the two-week anniversary of his initial two-week re-examination timeline for a sprained right MCL suffered against the Nets on Jan. 31.

[RELATED: Bulls preparing for possibility of losing Kris Dunn for rest of season]

Still, things are moving in the right direction for the Bulls on the injury front. The team entered the All-Star break on a six-game losing streak that ties a season-high, but Boylen maintained playing competitive basketball down the stretch remains a goal. At 19-36, they will resume play five games behind the Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

“I think doing both, I think that's what our challenge is this year,” Boylen said of the team’s dual objectives of winning and developing. “Part of development is you hope to play in some meaningful games, and we've had a couple of those situations this year compared to last year, and I'm hoping we can have more. I'm hoping.

"Health is part of that and just getting better. I got a good group of guys that play hard, and we gotta continue to do that, and hopefully improve as we go down the stretch here.”

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