Move over Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett.
Come this offseason when NBA free agency opens for business, those guys will no longer be the most sought after man on the open market. Because if Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago Bulls aren’t careful, they just might miss out on securing the services of one of the premiere head coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau.
Sad but true.
Despite earning NBA Coach of the Year honors last season, Chicago owning the league’s best record this season, being 12-4 with MVP Derrick Rose on the mend with groin issues (don’t forget Rip Hamilton has been banged up too), Thibodeau continues to go about his work with the third-year on his two-year contact being picked up by the Bulls.
Obviously management has their reasons for dragging their feet on not extending Thibodeau at this juncture of the season, but it shouldn’t have even reached this point. Negotiations aren’t even part of the picture. That’s the other hard part of this story to understand.
“Tom does a great job with this team, and you see the results of his hard work every time the players take the court,” Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune via e-mail last month.
“We certainly hope and expect that Tom will be with the Bulls well beyond his current contract. However, there is nothing to announce at this time.”
That can’t be sitting too well with Thibodeau, a defensive-minded coach who started in the NBA as an assistant in 1989 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, before moving on to San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York, Houston and Boston over the course of his assistant coaching career before finally getting his deserved shot in Chicago.
The longer the Bulls wait to extend Thibodeau — particularly as the offseason goes on over the course of the summer — the easier it will be for other teams to start courting the head coach whom a team like the New York Knicks most certainly will have interest in. For an East Coast guy like Thibodeau (who is a New Britain, Connecticut native), he just might entertain that offer. He also has roots with the Knicks after serving as an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy from 1996-2003.
Before joining the Bulls in 2010, Thibodeu also had serious offers from both the New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets, and instead signed a two-year deal with Chicago. Knowing what he did with the Bulls last season finishing 62-20 and then to follow it up this season with Chicago dominating the league, it’s on Reinsdorf to make the next move for a guy destined to win his second-straight COY award.
Make the right move.
If not, it’s going to be a very interesting offseason in Chicago.