After weeks of rumors and reports, the Bulls announced Thursday that they have fired head coach Tom Thibodeau. He was let go with two years and approximately nine million dollars left on his contract.Thibodeau has been the Bulls coach since 2010 and was successful in his five years with the team (255-139). He won the Coach of the Year award in 2011 and the Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals that same year, their most successful playoff run under Thibodeau. However injuries to key players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have stymied the Bulls since then. The Bulls went 50-32 this past season and were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the playoffs.There have been conflicts between Thibodeau and the Bulls front office for the last several years and the relationship was strained even further in the past couple of months. The team’s press release announcing Thibodeau’s dismissal openly discusses this tension.
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.”
“When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach,” said Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed.”
Despite these statements from the Bulls, Thibodeau will be a hot commodity among teams looking for a new head coach. The Orlando Magic and the New Orleans Pelicans are rumored to be potential landing spots for Thibodeau.