Tom Thibodeau, considered one of the game’s top coaches, would consider leaving the Chicago Bulls, but only to return to the Knicks, sources told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher (formerly of ESPN). Thibodeau, who won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in 2011, worked for the Knicks as an assistant coach back in 1999, when they made it to the NBA Finals. According to Bucher,
“There’s only one place that Thibodeau would really push to go elsewhere, and that’s to go back to the New York Knicks,” Bucher said. “That, I’m told by one source, is actually his dream job, to go back and get the Knicks back on the map. But short of that, he realizes that no matter where he goes, the grass isn’t always greener.”
Thibodeau is under contract with the Bulls, but there has reportedly been friction between the coach and the front office during his time in Chicago. Thibodeau was upset when the team fired his best assistant coach last season, and when they traded All-Star Luol Deng for cap space and salary relief this winter.
While the Knicks were a bit stingy (at least compared to the Warriors) in their failed pursuit of Steve Kerr, teams are not limited by the salary cap for coaching hires and James Dolan and Phil Jackson could probably make Tom Thibodeau an offer he couldn’t refuse.
However, Thibodeau is still a long shot to coach the Knicks for a couple reasons. First of all, the Knicks would almost certainly have to provide Chicago with compensation to get them to let the highly sought-after coach out of his contract, and the Knicks don’t have much to give in the way of trade assets. Second of all, Phil Jackson seems to be focused on hiring a coach with little or no experience, with whom he has a previous relationship, in an effort to indirectly coach the team from afar and find a pupil to try to convert into the “Next Phil Jackson”. Thibodeau has no relationship with Phil and is already a very established coach who is probably set in his own ways.
The reports of Thibodeau considering the Knicks to be his “dream job” can only be seen as good news, but for the time being, don’t count on him bringing his clipboard to the Big Apple.