Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Reactions to the Bulls' Hiring of Thibodeau)

BBS: Chicago Bulls Hire Tom Thibodeau as Head Coach

BBS: Click-a-Bull (World Wide Wes, Tom Thibodeau and Free Agents (Chris Bosh and Lebron James))

Quite an experience...

It's another mystery as Bulls tab Thibodeau, who doesn't have what they wanted

This is what the Bulls call head-coaching experience? One year as the top man at Salem State?

Twenty five years ago?

An NCAA Division III school currently in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference?

Oh, well, it wasn't I who was in search of a man with NBA head-coaching experience, it was the Bulls brass itself.

Instead, John Paxson and Gar Forman have agreed to sign Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, 50, to be the new man to lead the Bulls to the promised land.

I know there's been a lot of buzz about defensive guru Thibodeau lately, with the New Orleans Hornets offering him their head-coaching job, and other places allegedly pursuing him.

But if your main competition is a small-market franchise like the Hornets -- weren't they in North Carolina a while ago? -- then how high have you set your sights?

Thibodeau has never been a high-level college or NBA head coach.

Thibodeau brings experience, respect

Here are a few reasons why the Boston Celtics' assistant will be introduced as the new head coach of the Bulls once the NBA Finals end:

1. A player's coach: By almost all accounts, Thibodeau is beloved by the players he has coached. He is able to break down each player's game and consistently finds a way to make them better. Players respect his work ethic and trust him. In listening to players speak about him over the past few years, it's clear that he has the ability to connect with all types of players."Tom's a workaholic," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said recently. "I'm always catching him in there working, watching film in his office. He's probably the most prepared coach I've ever seen."

Celtics forward Glen Davis may have summed up the team's feelings towards Thibodeau best.

"I have no trouble following a guy who knows exactly where he's going," he told the Boston Globe.

2. More than a defensive guru: Thibodeau made a name for himself, at least nationally, by essentially being the defensive coordinator for the Celtics. But if you ask his peers, there is far more to him than simply being a defensive whiz. The Bulls wouldn't have decided on him unless they liked what they heard when he started talking about his offensive principals. Rivers and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, who hired Thibodeau in New York and Houston, made it a point in recent weeks to go out of their way to praise Thibodeau for his ability in other areas of the game as well. One of the biggest knocks on former Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro was that he didn't run a very imaginative offense. It will be interesting to see how Thibodeau incorporates Derrick Rose and any prospective free agent into this new era of Bulls basketball.

Tom Thibodeau's To-Do List

As soon as the NBA Finals are finished, Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau will be named the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls, and if were Jerry Reinsdorf I'd very quickly be having a conversation with my new skipper to let him know what he'd need to do in order to hit the ground running with one of the most promising teams in the Eastern Conference.

If it were my organization, and Thibodeau were my new coach, these are the things I'd suggest to him to make sure his first year with the Bulls was a success:

#1: It'd be great for us to get a marquee free agent, but let's start planning things this summer as if we're not going to end up with anybody better than our current best player, Derrick Rose. Keeping that in mind, remember that this team plays its best basketball when Rose is allowed to play to his strengths. Allow him ample opportunities for isolation plays so he can get into the lane and create. This roster has been built for pick-and-pop since Skiles was coaching the team, so that's still your bread-and-butter. But just understand that the more creative Derrick is allowed to be, the more effective that particular offense is going to run.

#2: And while we're talking about Derrick, get him to slow his roll a little bit on those transition jumpshots. He's gotten stronger in that area each of the last two seasons, but it's still not smart basketball. Remind him to either get to the cup and draw the foul—something he really, really needs to work on—or just pull back and wait to set up a safer offensive set.

#3: Joakim Noah is the emotional leader of this team. Any way you can get him to be more effective, you do it. Put him in situations defensively to make plays, and encourage him to continue his voracious rebounding. He's done a lot of weight-lifting in the last year, but get him on a strength-building program to make sure he's not getting pushed around by the bigger fives in the league. If he's going to be this team's center, he's got to bulk up so he can stay out of foul trouble. Get his rear end in the weight room and keep him there until October.

#4: Also, remind him not to take those 16-18 foot jumpshots. He likes them, but they're not a high percentage shot for him. I would encourage him, though, to continue pushing the ball up the floor off of easy rebounds when the other team's center is snoozing. Noah's an absolute joy in transition. You're going to love him. You really are.

Simply the best man for the job

Thibodeau hired for qualifications, not for LeBron

Pay attention conspiracy theorists: Exhibit A: After placing a premium on experience at the outset of the coaching search last month, the Bulls hired Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, whose only head-coaching experience was more than 25 years ago at a Division III college.

Exhibit B: The usually deliberate Bulls moved with lightning speed to get the deal done. They met with Thibodeau for the first time late last Wednesday night and an agreement was reached by lunchtime on Saturday.

Exhibit C: Thibodeau is represented by the same agency, CAA Sports, as Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, the biggest star in this year's star-studded free-agent class.

Conclusion: The Bulls settled for Thibodeau because he will improve their chances of signing James when the free-agent period begins next month.

Nice theory, but like most conspiracy theories it has little to do with reality.

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