How much do you trust Tom Thibodeau? If you were Jerry Reinsdorf, could you honestly continue to trust Thibs to manage your investment? Given the way Thibs coaches -- constantly trying to win every minute of every game, and playing Deng and Rose nearly 40 minutes every night they're available despite all of their numerous injuries -- can the Bulls as an organization allow Thibs to remain head coach in the wake of this injury? Thibs has been playing with fire by piling on the players all of these minutes, especially during meaningless times of games already in hand; and he finally got burned. The Bulls have over $200 million of committed contracts at the moment. Derrick Rose has a 5-year $95 million contract extension that begins next season -- a season in which he will certainly miss a considerable number of games due to this injury. If YOU were Uncle Jerry, if this was your franchise and your money at stake, would YOU personally want Thibs to remain your head coach into the future?
Nobody questions Thibs' ability to coach the X's and O's of the game. But Thibs has proven that his coaching philosophy is to grind every minute of the season. That's who he is as a person. He eats, sleeps, lives and breathes nothing but basketball. He has no family, no wife & kids to come home to, no birthday parties or recitals to attend, no anniversaries to plan for. He has no perspective on anything in life greater than the next 60 seconds of the next game. He doesn't conceptualize coaching the way Popovich does, who routinely rests his players and gives up games for the greater good of the season and his players' careers. We have all just experienced the downside of Thibs' rigid coaching philosophy. I say Thibs must go.
There are those who say that Thibs carries no culpability for Rose's unfortunate injury; that it was a freak accident; that it was inevitable; that Rose could've blown out his knee at any time, like during the first quarter of the next game. I say that's not what happened. Rose's injury didn't happen "at any time" -- it happened with a minute left in a game that was already won. It happened at precisely the time when many were worried that an injury like this would happen. Rose has been injured this season. Thibs had an obligation to properly balance the competing interests of giving Rose enough minutes to get back into rhythm, while not taking any unnecessary risks. Thibs doesn't understand how to achieve that balance. He cares only about winning the next minute of the game. He is unconcerned with the risk of injury. After all, it's not his franchise. It's not his investment. It's not a component of his rigid coaching philosophy. It's not who he is at his core.
This injury to Rose alters his entire career. Imagine Rose comes back, and he becomes an all-star again, but he's never the same. We'll have to remember the young Rose only on Youtube.
We already know how Reinsdorf and the Org feels about this situation. In 1985, the Bulls forced coach Stan Albeck to place a minutes restriction on Michael Jordan while he was coming back from a broken bone in his foot. MJ went ape-shit on Reinsdorf and Krause and was able to get the minutes restriction lifted for the playoffs only after he had demonstrated he was fully healthy and had no aggravation of his foot injury down the stretch of that season (something we cannot say about Rose this season). As recently as 2010, John Paxson literally fought Vinny Del Negro after a game because Vinny exceeded the Org's minutes restriction on Joakim Noah, who was coming back from an injury. Pax might have to choke out Thibs at some point.
Reinsdorf is a business man, plain and simple. He views the Bulls and his players as an investment. Anybody who doesn't think Thibs will have hell to pay over this injury is ignoring over 25 years of Reinsdorf's history owning this franchise.
If I was Uncle Jerry, I'd be on the phone today with Phil Jackson. I'd ask for a 3-year commitment to coach the Bulls. If Phil agreed, I'd fire Thibs after the season and hire Phil. This club already knows how to play championship caliber defense. Phil would use next season to install the Triangle offense. Imagine how great Noah & Boozer would be passing the ball in the flow of the Triangle. I would try to sign Steve Nash to a mid-level contract. I would work Rose back very, very slowly -- perhaps even hold him out the entire season. Two years from now, the team would be primed for another extended championship run.
Thibs will find a job with another team. And maybe he'll learn his lesson and manage player minutes much more carefully with a new club. However, right now if I was Reinsdorf, I would have no confidence in Thibs' ability to manage my investment. Thibs must go.