Rivers OK with Thibodeau’s Bulls meeting

LOS ANGELES – Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers insisted he was “fine” with his top assistant Tom Thibodeau meeting with Chicago Bulls officials less than 24 hours before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“I’m fine with it,” Rivers told Yahoo! Sports upon arrival at Staples Center Thursday night. “Tom does his job. He always does his job. If it was somebody that could be distracted, then I wouldn’t have let it happen. But this was all cleared.”

The Chicago Tribune first reported Thibodeau’s meeting with the Bulls.

The New Orleans Hornets made an offer to Thibodeau several days ago for their coaching opening, but he clearly has been trying to buy time to meet with officials from Chicago and New Jersey. Sources say he prefers those jobs over the Hornets, but those teams have yet to make an offer to him.

Celtics president Danny Ainge told Yahoo! Sports he gave four teams permission to speak with Thibodeau: the Hornets, Bulls, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, Ainge said, are the only team yet to speak with him.

Ainge said he doesn’t know where the negotiations stand between Thibodeau and the Hornets or Bulls, but doesn’t think he will return to Boston next season. “I think he’s gone,” Ainge said. “I’m guessing he will be somewhere next year because I think he will get his chance.”

Hornets general manager Jeff Bower set a Thursday deadline to get a deal done with Thibodeau, and sources close to him say he was unaware Thibodeau was meeting with the Bulls in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Miffed at a process that has started to become an embarrassment for New Orleans, Bower was contemplating pulling back the offer and hiring Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams.

Bower called Williams on Thursday to discuss the job, but no offer was made.

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Updated Thursday, Jun 3, 2010