MINNEAPOLIS – Fred Hoiberg has always maintained that the lines of communication between coach and the front office have been great.
But make no mistake, roles are very much defined within the Bulls organization. Coaches coach, while the front office handles personnel.
The acquisition of Michael Carter-Williams is just the latest example of that.
Hoiberg was hired because of his offensive mind. A space and pace offense that challenges the geometry of the game. And while he’s been given some big-name players in the wake of the disaster that was last season, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and now Carter-Williams don’t exactly fit what Hoiberg is known for.
But fine, coaches coach, so he’s willing to change the system for the personnel.
The bigger question that has to be asked, however, is are the Bulls going backwards in their style of building a team and integrating the coach’s needs into it?
No one coach knows how the current Bulls front office operates more than former coach Tom Thibodeau. And few currently know both sides of the coin than Thibodeau. He went from coaching the Bulls and having very little to no say in personnel to now being the coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The same type of power granted to the likes of Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, and Stan Van Gundy. Chefs allowed to cook the meal and pick out their own ingredients.
“I think every situation is different,’’ Thibodeau said on Tuesday, when asked how important it is for the coach to have a final say in personnel. “In Boston working with [president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers] [from 2007-10], everyone was involved with personnel decisions. Everyone was encouraged to give their opinion. I think the important thing is to make sure that everyone does have a voice. It could be a video guy, it could be an assistant coach, it could be a scout.’’
Thibodeau had a voice early on in his Bulls tenure, but that voice was ignored more and more as the lines of communication broke down in the relationship. If the Bulls front office would have listened to Thibodeau they may have drafted the likes of Draymond Green and Gorgui Deng instead of Marquis Teague and Tony Snell.
They wouldn’t have dismantled the bench mob, and they would have added free agents to the roster rather than taken away.
“The most important thing for me [taking the Minnesota job] was the alignment,’’ Thibodeau said. “To work with a group of people that shared a common belief system and what goes into winning. When you put competitive people together, you may not necessarily agree on every decision, but once you decide on what you’re going to do everyone has to align and move forward.’’
What remains impressive with Thibodeau is as poorly as the Bulls treated him during his dismissal, starting with the statement from board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Thibodeau has stayed on the high road.
Given the chance to question how the Bulls make their personnel decisions, he simply insisted, “Well, I think there’s no one way to do anything. There’s a lot of good ways to do it.’’
But is the better scenario to allow the coach to have final say in personnel?
“I think you see it more in football,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think it’s come into basketball more, but I think every organization in travelling around last year and looking at a lot of different teams, the one thing you see is the growth of all the organizations, as far as how many people there are. So there’s a lot of information that you’re getting and I think that helps you make the right decisions.’’
Or in some cases not.