Coach Tom Thibodeau wasted little time — or words — addressing the hot-seat topic after practice Wednesday, saying, “Could care less, I could,’’ when asked for a reaction to the rumors.
The Bulls’ front office was equally dismissive.
“No,’’ general manager Gar Forman said in a text when asked if there had been discussions about Thibodeau’s job security. “It’s not a story.’’
It actually was a story, but it might not have legs during the season. It could be a different story after the season. But a coaching change, even if the Bulls’ downward spiral continues, is highly unlikely.
“It’s important that we’re all in this together, that we share that,’’ Pau Gasol said when asked about Thibodeau feeling the heat. “It’s a bad sign when there are cracks, when people start pointing fingers, start talking negatively about any individual that is part of the group, whether it’s a coach or a player. That shows, again, weakness and shows disruption. So, right now, what we’re showing is togetherness, and that’s what we want to continue to show as a team.’’
One positive for the team was that the complete roster was able to practice, for a change. Even with Joakim Noah (right ankle/left knee) unable to do all the work, it was enough for Thibodeau to walk away feeling like there was hope that Noah and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle) would be making quick returns.
It was one of the few times this season in which everyone was accounted for, and Thibodeau was able to go most of the way without many restrictions.
“Very few,’’ Thibodeau said when asked how many complete practices he had been able to conduct this season. “And that’s really where you build your chemistry and continuity.’’
That reply buttressed Taj Gibson’s comments — “We gotta practice harder, and we can’t be taking days off’’ — after the loss Monday night in Cleveland.
“Anytime you go through a stretch like this, there’s disappointment, so the big thing is for everyone to put a little more in,’’ Thibodeau said. “And we have the type of guys that will. They’re not going to let things drag on. That’s what we have to do.
“What we’ve done in the past is we’ve been down a player before, and obviously dealt with Jo being out, but it was basically Jo by himself. And then when Derrick [Rose] was out, he was out by himself. But now we’ve had multiple starters out, we’ve had four rotation guys out, stuff like that, but we’ve got to get through that.’’
The idea that Thibodeau was losing the locker room or the players were tiring of his grind-it-out mentality seemed to be an alien concept to Gasol.
“That was not a concern,’’ Gasol said. “To me, honestly, I don’t think Tom is that hard-core. I don’t think we practice that hard. We do what we need to do, and he tries his best with us, just like we try our best. We have to get on the same page, not really pointing fingers but being positive with each other.’’