Tom Thibodeau’s firing led to Bulls’ descent into dysfunction

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CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 4: Head coach Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls talk before Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Bulls weren’t a whole lot of fun on the court last season and apparently even less likable off it.

Let’s run down the dysfunction that set in after they fired coach Tom Thibodeau a year ago. I think that scab deserves picking again:

— The on-going cold war between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose over which dog is the alpha was ratcheted up a few notches, the result being that both watched their approval rating in town dive. They don’t play well together basketball-wise and life-wise. It’s not a good look.

— Last week, the Bulls fired their director of sports performance, who used to be Rose’s personal trainer. It was the same director who had feuded with Thibodeau while he was coach. Now they’re both gone. If there’s a lesson here, I don’t know what it is.

— The Bulls might hire one of Butler’s trainers to run their training program. That’s called not learning your lesson.

— A recent Sun-Times story quoted a source saying that Joakim Noah weakened during the season because of the Bulls’ emphasis on stretching rather than strength.

— Before he was lost for the season with a shoulder injury, Noah, the ultimate team-first guy, was upset about being pushed to the bench by first-year coach Fred Hoiberg. That was the first hint that something was seriously wrong.

— With Thibodeau gone and no one even remotely in position to tell Rose how to handle himself, the point guard continued to talk about his desire for a max contract, even while the team was struggling. Tone, meet deaf.

Who’s running this show? Nobody knows. There’s tension in the front office, with rumors of a rift that makes the Rose-Butler competition look like kids’ stuff.

It makes you antsy for next season to start. The Blackhawks’ season.


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