Chicago Bulls: Will Tom Thibodeau Receive an Extension?
With only one year left on his contract, Thibodeau has repeatedly said he isn’t worried about an extension getting done. General Manager Gar Forman has expressed the same sentiments, suggesting they are waiting till the end of next season in order to avoid unnecessary distractions.
But the absence of an extension could prove to be the greatest distraction of all.
Thibodeau’s critics have suggested he may not be the coach that can put the Bulls over the top, much like Doug Collins before he was fired and Phil Jackson took over. They point to his stiff rotation, his penchant for riding his starters too hard, and his reluctance to give rookies substantial roles as indicators that Thibodeau is too green—or too rigid—to deliver a championship to Chicago. There will always be fans, for example, who blame him for leaving Rose on the floor when he tore his ACL, with the game all but over. Does management think they need a new Jackson to replace their current Collins?
But Thibodeau’s young track record should give detractors reason to pause. The Bulls have finished the regular season with the best record in the league every year since he took over, and last season he became the quickest to win 100 games as a head coach. His work ethic may be overwrought at times, but it is almost a guarantee that with such dedication in place he will never lose his team. What’s more, that work ethic rubs off on his players, creating a locker room culture primed for success.
Perhaps Forman is waiting to see how Thibodeau will perform this coming season, who will be without MVP Derrick Rose until March at best. More weight will be placed on Thibodeau’s success or failure because of his inability to rely on his superstar, a legitimate shift given Thibodeau will have to squeeze as much as he can out of a completely new bench.
But whether success or failure awaits the Bulls next season, it should also be remembered that he has been able to lead the Bulls atop the NBA standings with rosters that have been hampered by injury for both seasons. If he were given a truly healthy roster—perhaps once Rose returns, but more likely the 2014 season if he lasts long enough—Thibodeau may just be more Jackson than Collins.