Thibodeau insists that his job is to merely “coach guys that are here”.
Chicago Bulls vice-president John Paxson has admitted that he doesn’t expect coach Tom Thibodeau to be happy with the decision to trade Luol Deng.
The Bulls waived former Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum on Tuesday, clearing his $12.3m salary off their books which enables them to get below the luxury-tax threshold.
In addition, they will not have to pay the balance of Deng’s $14.3m salary which sees them save in excess of $20m which puts them in a strong position moving forward to build a deeper roster.
“Look, it’s not realistic to ask Tom or his staff to be happy about taking a player of Lu’s caliber off your team,” Paxson said Tuesday, as reported by ESPN.
“[General manager] Gar [Forman] and I put ourselves in Tom’s shoes a lot. Every day, really. And we know what he’s facing. We’re not sitting up here saying be happy about it. It’s hard. It’s difficult.”
However, the Bulls are clearly now looking at the future following Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury for the second year in a row.
While Deng has now departed, the core of the team is expected to be broken up further in the summer with Paxson also discussing the possibility of using the amnesty clause to clear Carlos Boozer off their books too.
Paxson insisted that no decision will be made on that in the upcoming weeks, but conceded that he is aware of the option that the Bulls have and they will explore it when the time is right.
Chicago has now received three future draft picks and are expected to bring Nikola Mirotic across from Spain next season as they look to build a younger and deeper roster that is capable of challenging for a championship.
Nevertheless, Thibodeau was keen to stress that he had spoken to management prior to the deal being made, although he didn’t make clear his opinion on the trade itself.
“I had a chance to voice my opinion,” Thibodeau said.
“Their job is to make financial decisions, to make player personnel decisions, and things of that nature. Their job is to do that. My job is to coach the guys that are here. That’s the way it works.”
It is also unclear what Rose made of the decision after he was consulted by the Bulls about the trade and spoke at length with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on Monday night.
However, the deal has now been done and Chicago will begin the process of rebuilding this summer which could see further exits as well as arrivals.