The Chicago Bulls will reportedly secure a replacement for Tom Thibodeau before they start discussions to release him from his contract in return for compensation.
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The Bulls are widely expected to part company with Thibodeau this summer, especially after their disappointing playoff exit at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.
Despite having one of the best regular season records of all coaches in the NBA over the last five years, Thibodeau has consistently failed to deliver in the playoffs and has had several run-ins with the front office regarding off-the-court issues.
However, he still has two years remaining on his contract worth $9m, and the suggestion is that the Bulls will look to obtain a commitment from their replacement before pushing ahead with plans to agree on a compensation package for their current coach.
Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg had originally been touted as the favourite to replace Thibodeau, but his health concerns are understood to be a sticking point over his decision to make the jump to the NBA.
As a result, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry has emerged as another top option, although reports claim he is scheduled to have talks with the New Orleans Pelicans in the coming weeks too.
What is clear at this stage is that the Bulls would prefer to know they have a coach coming in before they make it official that they are parting ways with Thibodeau.
“In fact, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com Friday that the Bulls’ front office isn’t even compelled to engage in compensation talks with any teams that are interested in their coach until they have a commitment from a replacement who excites them”, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com.
Chicago will want to play this out in order to give teams the impression that they aren’t set on losing Thibodeau, thus in turn drumming up interest and the possible compensation that they could receive in order to ‘prise him away’.
Based on all the speculation over the past year or so, it is no secret that this could be the end for Thibodeau in Chicago, but it remains to be seen who will replace him and that will have to be confirmed first.