Bulls

Where Tom Thibodeau's Bulls assistants wound up

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Where Tom Thibodeau's Bulls assistants wound up

When Tom Thibodeau was fired by the Bulls on May 28, it left the status of his top four assistants unknown. And while newly tabbed head coach Fred Hoiberg had interviews with three of Thibodeau's four assistants, there was expected turnover in the following months. Here's a look at where the four assistants will be (or won't be) coaching in 2015.

Ed Pinckney (2010-2015)

After five seasons with Thibodeau in Chicago, Pinckney was hired Sunday by the Denver Nuggets. He'll be the top assistant for Michael Malone, who was unceremoniously fired in Sacramento 24 games into his second season with the club. Pinckney, a defensive specialist, will do wonders for a Nuggets defense that ranked 26th in efficiency (105.5) and 27th in points per game allowed (105.0). Denver has plenty to improve upon before being considered something other than a lottery team, but young prospects Emmanuel Mudiay and Jusuf Nurkic give the team something to build around as they try to figure out the direction they'll take to rebuild the franchise. Pinckney will join Chris Fleming, Wes Unseld Jr., Micah Nori and Ryan Bowen on Malone's staff.

Andy Greer (2010-2015)

The only assistant who was not retained when Thibodeau was fired on May 28. Greer was hired by Thibodeau in 2010 after stints with the Knicks, Rockets, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers. He and Thibodeau coached together as assistants under Jeff Van Gundy in Houston. Greer has not been hired by an NBA team yet, though both Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dwayne Casey and the Toronto Raptors were considering him for an assistant spot.

[WATCH: Could the Bulls deal Tony Snell this offseason?]

Adrian Griffin (2010-2015)

One of the best young coaches in the NBA, Griffin spent time in Chicago as both a player (two stints) and assistant coach under Thibodeau. Next season he'll join Scott Skiles' staff in Orlando; Griffin played under Skiles during the 2004-05 and 2006-07 season. He'll be tasked with helping an extremely talented young core improve. That list of players includes Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon. Griffin was asked on Sirius XM Radio last month if he was surprised by Thibodeau's dismissal from Chicago. He responded: "I've been around this league awhile, nine years as a player, seven as an assistant coach. So nothing really surprises me in this league. And five years is a long time for a coach nowadays, so I believe that Tom did an unbelievable job of helping establish the culture of the Chicago Bulls and I believe Fred is going to take it to the next level. It's a great organization, great people, so I don't see any reason why it won't continue."

Mike Wilhelm (2002-present)

The lone member of Thibodeau's coaching staff who will remain with the team under Fred Hoiberg. Wilhelm has been in the Bulls organization since 2002, joining Bill Cartwright's staff as an assistant and advance scout. Wilhelm has been a part of four different coaching staffs - Carwright, Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro and Thibodeau - and will be joined on Hoiberg's staff by Jim Boylen and Pete Myers.

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.