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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 5.29.2015

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

By Sam Smith | 5.29.2015 | 9:30 a.m. CT

Despite the Bulls providing opportunity to their past coaches, they have always had issues with the coaches. For example, Phil Jackson and the past two coaches: Vinny Del Negro and Tom Thibodeau. Are you able to provide an opinion on this that doesn't necessarily defend the Bulls?Raj Sheth

I completely understand moving on from Thibs. The Bulls squandered an ample opportunity to make it to the finals. The stretches of non-existent offense and defensive breakdowns started to call into question Thibs ability to take the team to the next level. Were players starting to tune him out? Were are guys worn down? I think these are all fair questions that can be the basis for evaluating Thibs as a coach and determining to move on. What I don’t like is Jerry Reinsdorf airing out all the personal grievances against Tom, while at the same time stating that internal discussions should remain private. There were basketball reasons for the team to fire him. And those reasons should have been the focus. I would have liked the Bulls to acknowledge his accomplishments, thank him for his work, and point to the reasons in which a new coach is necessary to reach our goals. Maybe I'm a homer, but I tend to believe that the Bulls are one of the very best run organizations in the NBA. The team does an incredible job managing both basketball and business operations. And I have always gotten the impression that the Bulls do things the right way. But this situation calls into question those beliefs.Joey Maassen

Just finished reading the article on the firing of Thibs and I agree that maybe it was just time to split up and go separate ways. With that said, I am going to miss Thibs so much. He was an amazing coach and I believe he is a Championship coach, just couldn't happen in Chicago. One big complaint I heard a lot was that he rode his players too hard, but yet if he hadn't pushed them so hard would they have had the same success missing Rose, Noah and other players? Our players developed under Thibs, will it continue with another coach? I will miss his hoarse voice during TV interviews, I will miss seeing him run up and down the sidelines, I will miss being up 30 and Thibs coaching like he's down 30, I will miss the way he would yell at Butler and Gibson to "Go to Work" when we were on offense. I will never forget the fist pump he gave when Rose hit the game-winner against Cleveland, his last win as coach of the Bulls. I love Thibs and wish him nothing but the best as he deserves it. Knock his coaching style all you want, but he was true to himself and I can respect that. Good luck, Thibs!! Let's go Bulls!!Adam Garcia

Sam: I think that’s a fair view. I wrote about that in a column I posted last night.

Thibs had a great run with the Bulls and the team benefited. But change is the only constant in sports, if also in the work world these days as well. None of us is close enough to understand the realities of working together so closely for so long among such driven people with so much pressure on them. Remember, they are doing their jobs with the public light constantly on them and unlike basically every business critics analyzing their moves daily. It’s why I liken it to a divorce. If you know one side you never know the story, and each side always believes the other at fault. They helped one another, Thibs with the start of his career and the Bulls with their culture change. These things never end smoothly and basically there’s little reason to believe they will or should.

John Paxson gave the most direct and I hope honest analysis. The Cavs were ripe for the taking and we botched our best chance at a championship or at least finals appearance. Thibs was directly or indirectly responsible for many late game, in-game and general execution failures. Game 4 was simply inexcusable and the coaches (all of them) inability to capitalize on a weak opponent was the end.
Above all. He took this team as far as he could but the team quit in Game 6 and in essence quit on him. It was time for a change. Great coach but not a championship level free-thinker. We should thank him for the gift of Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Without Thibs pushing them none of them would be multi-million dollar per year players and great pros.Sundeep Shah

Who would be your first choice to replace Thibs among available candidates?Joe Roznowski

Empirical evidence supports those people that say you need to have perimeter shooting to win in the NBA seeing that the last 4 teams all ranked top 5 in regular season 3-pointers made. Is this a sign that we should expect the Bulls’ next coach to make McDermott, Snell and Niko a much bigger part of the rotation?Kyle Smith

Sad, sad day...bittersweet, really. I keep hearing that the landing spots for Thibs are the Pelicans or the Magic. I am really really surprised that the Minnesota Timberwolves have not been mentioned or have openly come out and said "We Want Thibs". I dont think Flip envisioned him self being GM and Coach but did it because of the Adelmann departutre. Young talent and havent sniffed a playoffs in years...i think Thibs could get those guys into the playoffs with his defenseAl Hasan

After watching the Cavs take down the Hawks (despite injuries) it makes me feel better that we have put up the best fight against them during these playoffs. While more time still needs to go by before evaluating the season as a whole I'm cautiously optimistic about next year. The team will be mostly intact (barring a trade and not counting Thibs) so other than development by some of the younger players what can be done to upgrade the roster? Do you think bringing back any former players like Nate Robinson would help or would going in another direction be better?Bryan Bushroe

Cavs in 6 over warriors. NBA is in a sad state right now.Mike Sutera

Do you think David Blatt will be fired after this season? Despite the general view, I think he has done a good job of creating a system around LeBron. Plus, I really think LeBron would like to have a coach that he can override. He does not want an alpha-dog threat in that bench. Melbert Tizon

Jerry Sloan made two NBA Finals appearances in over 20 years coaching the Utah Jazz, being as close to a coaching lock as possible, and his breakup with the Jazz received nowhere near this much national media coverage. Thibs had five good years. The time came for a change. Teams have fired coaches before. Teams have had issues with coaches before. I'm sad to see Thibs go, but if there's a silver lining hopefully it means somebody else can become the NBA media's obsession for awhile and the speculative stories can stop.Chris Feldman

What are the chances of Jeff Van Gundy becoming the next head coach for the Chicago Bulls?Simon McKeown