As ESPN reported, the Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has officially signed his four year contract extension with the team. In a season where the Bulls decided not to make any moves at the trade deadline, this move was certainly justified.
Since joining the Bulls, Thibodeau has led his team to the NBA‘s best record each of the last two years. This season will end much differently, but not for lack of effort and coaching from “Thibs,” as his players call him.
This season Thibodeau has dealt with a multitude of injuries to his deep squad. Aside from superstar point guard Derrick Rose being out all year long, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson have struggled to stay in the lineup. Guard Marco Belinelli has been out as of late, and the normally starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton has been absent for what seems like virtually all season. Point guard Kirk Hinrich, who was signed to start in place of Rose until he returns, has officially been listed with a total of eight injuries this season. Forward Luol Deng has played all season long with a torn ligament in his wrist, but has fought through it and still managed to play 40+ minutes per night.
With all the struggles the Bulls have had, Thibodeau has been the one constant this year. In his style of coaching, similar to that of Gregg Popovich, he trains his players to understand that on any given night every single one of them better be ready to play. “Next man up” has been a popular phrase in the Bulls’ locker room this year.
It’s not just a slogan though, it is reality and it is what Chicago has been living and dying by all year long. The players know what Thibodeau expects out of them: Heart, passion, tenacity, and most of all the best defensive effort they have within themselves.
This type of mentality has led the Bulls to clinch a playoff seed yet again, but going anywhere in the postseason will be an entirely different story for the Bulls.
Will Rose return? Will Noah and Gibson be healthy enough to play significant minutes? Even if those two questions prove to be answered ‘yes,’ it may not be enough against a team like the Miami Heat who have owned the league this season. In any regard, the point is that Thibodeau deserves every penny he is paid with his new extension. Before him, the Bulls were no where near the type of team they are today.