With the devastating news about Derrick Rose’s reinjury of a torn meniscus, the Chicago Bulls’ hopes for a deep playoff run just got much dimmer. While it easy to think about how the loss of a franchise player will probably lead to an early playoff exit and likely matchup of a Hawks-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps more grave news is in store for Chicago Bulls fans: the possible departure of head coach, Tom Thibodeau.
Thibodeau has built an outstanding reputation as an elite coach whose voice has gotten raspy as he preached strong defense and a tough brand of basketball with the Bulls. What’s also known about Thibodeau is his tumultuous relationship with the Bulls front office. Ever since the Bulls decided to fire Thibs’ right hand man, Ron Adams, there has been constant speculation that Thibodeau would eventually leave and coach a team more appreciative of his efforts. Derrick Rose has always been known to be one of Thibodeau’s ardent supporters but his injury can make the Chicago Bulls coach seriously reconsider what’s best for himself.
Thibodeau’s contract status this summer as well as Rose’s injury questions both the Bulls short term and long term success. When surveying the market for possible big market suitors for Thibodeau, there aren’t many options available. Both the Knicks and Lakers recently hired head coaches and are unlikely to pursue Thibodeau. However, an interesting match for the well-respected coach still remains- the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The hot seat Thunder coach, Scottie Brooks, was on earlier this season has certainly cooled with the recent Thunder winning streak and claim of the eighth as well as the last playoff spot in the daunting Western Conference. But if the Oklahoma City Thunder underwhelm this postseason (anything short of making the NBA Finals), there will be legitimate questions about Brooks’ job security. The Thunder are now on the clock to win a championship before Kevin Durant’s imminent free agency in the summer of 2016. So, an early playoff exit from both teams could precipitate in the Bulls and Thunder both looking for new coaches this summer.
With the prevailing thought that Durant will bolt if he still ringless with the Thunder, GM Sam Presti has to consider all options to retain their franchise star even if it means cutting ties with a good company man such as Scottie Brooks. Both Presti and Brooks have a terrific relationship, so any split will be very difficult. But if the Thunder are serious about not losing their homegrown star, Tom Thibodeau represents a huge upgrade at the coaching position and a much needed defensive mindset to any future Thunder championship runs. Thibodeau will garner the respect of both Durant as well as Westbrook and inevitably be one less reason for Kevin Durant to leave. If the Thunder wishes to retain their core and become the dynasty they envisioned, Tom Thibodeau could be the missing piece to the puzzle.