The Pelicans are waiting to see whether Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau becomes available as New Orleans approaches its coaching search, league sources tell John Reid of The Times-Picayune. That puts New Orleans in the same position as the Magic, who are also waiting on Thibodeau, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported last week. Thibodeau “could possibly” become a contender for the Pelicans job if he shakes free, Reid writes, but New Orleans has long regarded Thibs highly and made a play for him in 2010 before hiring Monty Williams instead. Indeed, TNT’s David Aldridge identified Thibodeau as a “clear and obvious candidate” for the Pelicans soon after Tuesday’s firing of Williams.
It’s “inevitable” that the Bulls and Thibodeau will part ways after the season, Wojnarowski wrote last week, while people close to the coach have been convinced Chicago will fire him, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported last month. Still, it seems more likely that the Bulls would seek compensation for letting Thibodeau out of his contract than that they would simply fire him, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The Magic would likely be willing to give up one or two second-round picks for the right to hire Thibodeau, Kyler wrote, while Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times heard that the Magic’s job would be Thibodeau’s to turn down. It’s believed Thibodeau is also the front-runner for the Nuggets job, according to Kyler, though Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post has found it hard to envision Thibodeau on the sidelines in Denver, given the split between the coach’s defense-first philosophy and the Nuggets’ desire to run.
Still, the Pelicans are the only team with a coaching vacancy that possesses a star of the caliber of Anthony Davis, and New Orleans would be at the front of the line to hire Thibodeau if he becomes available, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Pelicans GM Dell Demps, who’s conducting the team’s coaching search, said Tuesday that the effort would begin immediately and that the team hadn’t established a short list yet, Reid notes. However, it appears New Orleans wants to hold off to gauge the circumstances surrounding the coach who would be perhaps the most sought-after on the market.