The speculation about Tom Thibodeau’s coaching career after this Bulls season is unending.
A Yahoo Sports report about Thibodeau’s future even followed the Bulls’ Game 1 win over the Cavaliers. In that report, Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Bulls management “can’t wait to rid itself of Tom Thibodeau.”
On Tuesday, the Pelicans fired head coach Monty Williams after a 45-37 season.
And NBA analysts already love the idea of a Thibodeau pairing with the Pelicans.
For one, as ESPN’s Marc Stein notes, the move would reunite Thibodeau with Anthony Davis. The two worked together on Team USA. Secondly, Thibodeau has been pursued by the Pelicans before.
Speculation about Thibodeau and the Pelicans is already heating up among rival teams, CBS reports.
And speculation among rival teams and coaching industry sources immediately turned to a head coach who is still employed: the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau, who was a candidate for the New Orleans job when the team hired Williams. Long-simmering tension between Thibodeau and the Bulls’ front office is now common knowledge throughout the league, and rival teams expect the Bulls and their gravelly voiced, defensive genius to part ways once Chicago’s playoff run is over. How long that playoff run goes, of course, complicates matters; how do you fire a coach who leads you to the conference finals or beyond? And if the parting is mutual, what, if any, compensation would the Bulls demand for Thibodeau to jump teams? If Thibodeau and the Bulls, indeed, parted ways, it would set off shockwaves in the coaching business. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg is widely believed to be the Bulls’ preferred replacement, but who would replace him in Ames, Iowa? There’s a growing belief that Iowa State would try to lure another Cyclones great from the NBA: Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, currently making less than Hoiberg’s average salary with less security than college jobs offer.
TNT basketball analyst David Aldridge called Thibodeau to the Pelicans a “clear and obvious” fit.
Sports Illustrated basketball writer Chris Mannix writes that a Pelicans pursuit of Thibodeau “seems likely.”
The Sun-Times’ own Joe Cowley reported that Thibodeau would also be a good fit for the Cavaliers, who will face the Bulls in Game 5 Tuesday night.
If Thibodeau is gone after this season, as all indications seem to point to, Cleveland would be a good landing spot for him. James, a one-man executive-search firm, has said he likes Thibodeau. Thibs was an assistant coach for the World Cup-winning 2014 U.S. men’s national team, which included Kyrie Irving. And seeing as how James seems intent on getting his coach fired after the season, there might be an opening in Ohio soon.