MONDAY, 4:02pm: People around the league who look up to Thibodeau increasingly express worry that the Bulls indeed plan to wait for the three NBA vacancies to fill up and then simply fire Thibs, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
SATURDAY, 2:58pm: The Bulls are determined to hold on to Thibodeau until the remaining coaching vacancies have been filled, meaning that if they then fire him, it would likely leave him out of coaching for the 2015/16 season, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
THURSDAY, 2:39pm: The Magic’s interest in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been overstated, a source tells K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter links). Thibodeau, whose seemingly rocky relationship with Bulls management appears poised to result in a split this summer, has long been linked to Orlando’s vacancy. However, recent reports that the Magic would be willing to pay him $7-9MM a year and that the Orlando job is Thibodeau’s for the taking are off-base, Johnson hears, as is the notion that the team is prepared to give the Bulls compensation for the right to hire him. The Bulls are widely expected to demand assets in return for letting Thibodeau out of his contract, which runs two more seasons, and a recent report indicated that the Magic would likely be willing to give up one or two second-round picks for the right to hire Thibs.
Still, the Magic may indeed still wind up talking to Thibodeau at some point, Johnson adds. As of Wednesday, no team had yet contacted the Bulls to request to interview Thibodeau, a league source told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The Bulls haven’t spoken with Fred Hoiberg, reportedly the team’s top choice to replace Thibodeau if Chicago indeed parts ways with its coach, the source also said to Berger. Alvin Gentry, another apparent front-runner for the would-be Bulls opening, reportedly has strong interest in the Pelicans job, which he interviewed for Monday. The Bulls want to set up a clear plan of succession before starting talks about what sort of compensation they’d want from other teams in exchange for letting them hire Thibodeau, Berger wrote last week.
Thibodeau isn’t about to quit and simply give up the nearly $9MM left on his contract, as Johnson recently observed, and if the Bulls are determined to make Thibodeau go away, they likely have a distinct financial motivation to work out a deal with another team. Most NBA coaching contracts, including those the Bulls have given out in the past, have a set-off clause that would absolve the team of whatever it owes the coach if he takes another job at an equal or greater salary during the term of the pact, Berger explains. So, if Thibodeau can find another team willing to pay him at least $4-5MM a year, the Bulls probably won’t owe him any money, according to Berger. The Nuggets are “not an option” for Thibodeau, Berger also wrote, apparently leaving Orlando and New Orleans as the only teams with existing vacancies left to bid.