Tom Thibodeau has been axed by the Chicago Bulls.
After spending much time deliberating on how they’d part ways with head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls announced on Thursday afternoon that they have ultimately decided to fire their head man. Chicago’s breakup with Thibodeau comes as no surprise, as it had been rumored for months that the Bulls and owner Jerry Reinsdorf were itching to axe Thibodeau due to organizational strife which stemmed from what is perceived to be a power-struggle.
The Bulls issued an explicitly detailed press release to announce Thibodeau’s firing, with Reinsdorf pulling no punches in regards to the Bulls’ former coach.
Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required. Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future.”
Thibodeau’s inability to run a fluid offense was one of his most glaring weaknesses as Chicago’s coach. With the exception of 2011-12 (5th overall) and this season (10th overall) the Bulls finished 12th or lower in Offensive Rating every season under Thibodeau, including 24th in 2012-13 and 28th in 2013-14.
In Thibodeau’s defense, Derrick Rose, Chicago’s most explosive offensive player, only appeared in 210 of the 445 games (47%) Thibodeau coached with the Bulls in five seasons.
But despite the fact that Rose was absent for more than half the games during Thibodeau’s tenure, Chicago was still a respected team that was viewed as a legitimate playoff threat even without their star. That respect was a product of their gritty play and suffocating defense, which was top-five in Defensive Rating every season under Thibodeau with the exception of this year. Chicago also ranked 1st league-wide in DRtg during Thibodeau’s first two seasons.
Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2010-11, and went 255-139 during his time with Chicago. His .647 winning percentage is second to only Phil Jackson in Bulls history. Thibodeau led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 where they fell to the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat.
Thibodeau and the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs this year by James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in six games. Thibodeau is expected to receive the remaining $9 million on his contract.