The Chicago Bulls fired Tom Thibodeau as head coach today, adding both another job opening and another coaching candidate to the off-season coaching carousel.
There have been rumors since the Pelicans fired Monty Williams that Thibodeau was their target, but in the meantime, Jeff van Gundy (and possibly Scott Skiles--a candidate in Orlando as well) have been mentioned in connection with the New Orleans job.
The Bulls are expected to pursue Fred Hoiberg, head coach at Iowa State, and perhaps Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry as well, two other guys I think would make fine NBA head coaches.
Thibodeau has a well earned reputation as a terrific defensive coach. He helped shape successful defenses early in his career with the Knicks and Rockets, and then most famously with the championship Celtics squad under Doc Rivers, where he was credited with developing the top defense in the league, with Kevin Garnett as the unit's captain.
In five years with the Bulls, he established them as one of the top defensive teams in the league, and averaged 51 wins a season despite significant injuries, particularly to star Derrick Rose. He was able to guide the Bulls to only four post-season series wins in those five years, however, and his reputation for playing his best players heavy minutes has earned him criticism that his style promotes injury and burn out.
Still, he makes your team better.
So...the Wolves will be coached by Flip Saunders again this season. He has left little doubt that he is keeping the coaching job as well as being the POBO, and owner Glen Taylor has capitulated, at least for this season, saying that he wouldn't ask Flip to step down from what was announced last year as a temporary measure while insisting that long term he still wants a different coach.
Whether Thibodeau even wants to coach next season, with the Bulls on the hook for $9 million, remains to be seen, and whether he'd be interested in the Wolves job is a further question. But with Thibs out there, as well as guys like Hoiberg, Gentry, and Mike Malone possibly looking for NBA coaching jobs, the Wolves expected disinterest stings.
Perhaps I will be proven wrong and Saunders will make a good faith effort to hire someone from this group, but I'm not holding my breath for him to do that or to be successful on the off chance he does try.
We've lamented all season that the Wolves need a different coach, someone preferably with either a more modern approach to offense or a demonstrated capability to coach defense.
Guys are available who fit at least one of those criteria, but we almost certainly aren't getting one of them.
How frustrated are we with that reality, Wolves fans? Let me know.