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Tom Thibodeau officially fired as Bulls look for new head coach

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After an apparent last-ditch bluff to try and get compensation fizzled, and some bad leaks started springing overnight, the Bulls on Thursday announced that they have fired Tom Thibodeau as head coach.

Since this is an outright firing, the Bulls will owe Thibs the approximate $9m remaining on the 4-year contract extension he signed prior to the 2013-14 season. That money will be offset by any salary Thibs earns in a future coaching position, and as of yet none of the remaining NBA jobs have been filled.

As for the Bulls current job opening, the long-rumored favorite is Iowa State Head Coach (and former Chicago Bull, and current pal to Gar Forman and Doug McDermott) Fred Hoiberg. Other mentioned candidates include Golden State Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry, and current Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin.

Thibodeau had been the Bulls coach since 2010, accumulating a 255-139 regular season record and winning the Coach of the Year award in his first season. The past couple of seasons though had been marred by player injuries and a not-so-hidden feud between coach and front office, with his final season with the team ending in disappointing fashion in the second round of the playoffs against Cleveland.

The full press release is below:

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Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman announced today that Tom Thibodeau will not be retained as the team’s head coach.

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, "The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone's ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required. Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future."

Following 21 years in the NBA as an assistant coach (he was an advance scout in 1991-92), Chicago named Thibodeau the team’s head coach on June 23, 2010. During his five seasons at the helm of the Bulls, Thibodeau’s teams compiled an overall record of 255-139 (.647). The Bulls advanced to the playoffs five times during Thibodeau’s tenure, where he posted a postseason record of 23-28 (.451).

"When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach," said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. "But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed."