If last offseason, which saw the likes of established veteran coaches like George Karl and Lionel Hollins get fired after the most successful seasons in their respective franchise histories, seemed bizarre, it’s nothing compared to what could take place this year.
Golden State fired head coach Mark Jackson on Tuesday, just days after the injury-riddled Warriors’ Game 7 loss to the Clippers, amidst rumors and factual evidence of the former NBA floor general’s poor relationships with assistant coaches—ex-Bulls player Brian Scalabrine and another assistant coach, Darren Erman, were demoted and dismissed, respectively, during the regular season—despite the last two seasons being two of the franchise’s best in recent memory, as well as the vocal support of his players, particularly All-Star point guard Stephen Curry.
The Warriors’ opening immediately becomes the most coveted of the five current head-coaching vacancies in the league—the Knicks, Lakers, Timberwolves and Jazz are the others—and like the jobs in the other two major markets, New York and Los Angeles, there’s already plenty of speculation about who could fill the positions.
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Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is reportedly a name on the lists of both of the California teams, which isn’t surprising, given his stature as one of the elite coaches in the game. But despite the fact that he has loose ties to both situations—Warriors owner Joe Lacob was a Celtics minority owner when he was an assistant coach on Doc Rivers’ staff in Boston and as a 76ers assistant, he worked out a teenage Kobe Bryant during the future Hall of Famer’s high-school days outside of Philadelphia—there’s the small issue of Thibodeau still having three years left on his contract with the Bulls.
The Warriors and Lakers would have to ask the Bulls for permission to discuss their openings with Thibodeau and until that occurs, there’s no need for the organization to publicly address the situation. But the fact that, as of now, the Bulls’ front office hasn’t released a statement notifying the entire league of their coach’s status would seem to indicate that it’s up to Thibodeau to either express interest in those jobs or rebuff his would-be suitors, before concrete ideas as to compensation and a potential replacement take shape.
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