This time the rumors came true.
The Chicago Bulls fired head coach Tom Thibodeau on Thursday, ESPN is reporting.
The move comes just two weeks after Thibodeau's Bulls lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in six games. Thibodeau had just finished his fifth season at the helm of the Bulls and had two years and $9 million left on his contract with the team. His Bulls' teams had lost to James's squads in three of his five postseasons as coach.
"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," Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement to ESPN. "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."
Thibs was long rumored to have had rifts with the organization's front office, leading up to Thursday's decision. In five seasons as the Bulls' head coach, Thibodeau amassed a 255-139 record and that was with the franchise's star, Derrick Rose, having only played in 181 of 394 games due to a rash of injuries (predominantly knee issues). Thibodeau was even named 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year.
But throughout his tenure with the Bulls, the grizzled coach earned a reputation for running players to the ground by maxing out their minutes on the court. The rep triggered the Bulls' front office to reportedly impose a minutes-monitoring system for the likes of Rose and center Joakim Noah.
Thibodeau will almost certainly become a top target of teams with head coaching vacancies, such as the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans.
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