There are rumblings around the Chicago Bulls’ offices these days that Tom Thibodeau already has a deal in place to coach the Knicks next season.
Well, Thibodeau is represented by CAA, the one and only firm that Jim Dolan wants to deal with when it comes to players and coaches. But it’s extremely difficult to believe that an agreement has been struck with the former Knicks assistant to come back to New York, since he’s under contract to coach the Bulls through 2016-17.
You can just imagine the fallout if a Thibodeau-Knick deal were to be proven true. There wouldn’t be just a major tampering case here, but Thibodeau would face sanctions from the NBA, possibly preventing his move to the Garden.
But after this season, sure, Thibodeau has to be seen as a viable candidate for the Knicks’ job. As we saw with Doc Rivers’ departure from the Celtics last June to take over the L.A. Clippers, a coach under contract can still move on, for a price. In Rivers’ case it was an unprotected first-round pick that Boston will get in 2015.
By trading Luol Deng this past week for what amounted to major financial relief, the Bulls are preparing to rebuild and that certainly may influence whether Thibodeau wants to stay in Chicago or make a move to New York, if the Knicks say goodbye to Mike Woodson.
The Bulls’ front office tried to paint a picture that Thibodeau was on board with the Deng trade, but league sources say that he was kept in the dark about where they were shipping one of his all-time favorite players and about the timing of the deal. That’s the kind of maneuver that has always caused friction between the Bulls’ front-office honchos and their head coach.
At some point, we could see Thibodeau saying enough’s enough and looking to move on, with the Garden becoming a very viable landing spot. Aside from the CAA connection, Dolan might also have figured out by now that Thibodeau is one of the NBA’s top coaches. In fact, the Eagles, with whom Dolan is close, are said to rank him No. 1 on their all-time list.