3:43pm: Bulls GM Gar Forman once more dismissed the idea of a rift between the coach and management, telling Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com that, “We’re in total agreement with Tom that it’s all just noise.” Thibodeau had made a similar comment in Wojnarowski’s report.
11:31am: A parting of ways between the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau is “inevitable,” as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes, though “maybe — just maybe” it will prove tougher to oust the coach from his job than to knock the Bulls out of the playoffs, Wojnarowski adds at the end of his column. Regardless, Bulls management is eager to be rid of Thibodeau, and its choice to replace him is Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, according to Wojnarowski. That largely falls in line with two reports from late last month, when Grantland’s Zach Lowe heard that people close to Thibodeau were convinced the Bulls would fire him at season’s end and Tim Bontemps of the New York Post wrote that many view Hoiberg as his likely replacement.
The Magic are waiting to see how the dynamic between Thibodeau and the Bulls plays out, Wojnarowski reports, just as many have been speculating, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel recently noted. It’s believed that the Bulls will seek some sort of compensation for letting Thibodeau out of his contract, which runs through 2016/17, to coach elsewhere, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. Kyler suggests that the Bulls wouldn’t demand as much as other teams have sought for coaches lately, given Chicago’s apparent eagerness to move on from Thibodeau, though the Basketball Insiders scribe also suggests the need to pony up compensation might dissuade Orlando from pursuing the coach. The Clippers relinquished this year’s first-round pick for the right to hire Doc Rivers, and the Bucks gave up two second-round picks for Jason Kidd. Thibodeau is close with former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, whom Orlando fired in 2012, Lowe points out, speculating that the dynamic could pose another hurdle to Thibodeau ending up with the Magic.
Former Thunder coach Scott Brooks is second behind Thibodeau on the Magic’s list of preferred candidates, sources tell Kyler, and the team is considering Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry, too, Kyler adds. Kyler hears the Magic, like the Nuggets, the other team with a coaching vacancy, have had “small informal talks” but that neither team is expected to begin formal interviews soon.
Thibodeau’s future with Chicago is in serious doubt in spite of support from Bulls star Derrick Rose, as Wojnarowski details. That backing has helped prolong Thibodeau’s stay in Chicago to this point, but it wouldn’t forestall the end for the coach this summer, Wojnarowski writes. Rose is also under contract through 2016/17.