Thibodeau in lead to land Hornets’ job

Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau has emerged as the frontrunner for the New Orleans Hornets’ coaching job and an offer could be forthcoming in the near future, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Hornets are moving toward formulating an offer for Thibodeau and don’t want to risk losing him to another team with a coaching vacancy.

Sources say it’s been an excruciating process because general manager Jeff Bower and president Hugh Weber have also been impressed with their other finalist, Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams. Sources say Hornets point guard Chris Paul(notes) has also been an advocate for the Portland assistant coach.

Nevertheless, the Celtics’ success in the postseason has again crystallized Thibodeau’s strength as a defensive coach.

Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been effusive in praise of Thibodeau to league friends, and New Jersey Nets GM Rod Thorn has him on his short list of coaching candidates. The revitalization of the Celtics in this postseason, especially a defense that Thibodeau oversees, has been a boon to his head-coaching candidacy.

Thibodeau has interviewed for several jobs over recent years, including Philadelphia, Detroit and Sacramento, but has yet to land one. It’s unclear whether Thibodeau would immediately accept an offer or wait for the chance to meet with the Bulls once the Celtics eliminate the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals.

Even with the future of Celtics coach Doc Rivers uncertain, sources say Thibodeau has been given no assurances he would be a strong candidate to replace him. Rivers has been contemplating leaving the Celtics with a year left on his contract and return home to Orlando to spend more time with his family.

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Updated Monday, May 24, 2010