I have to say that I'm quite surprised the Chicago Bulls have yet to offer head-coach Tom Thibodeau a long-term deal. When the sides failed to reach an agreement earlier this year, I thought it would only be a matter of time before a deal was finalized. For whatever reason, that is not the case at this point in time. With so much potential change surrounding the team, locking up Thibodeau to a long-term deal should be a priority and here are a few reasons as to why.
Following the departure of Phil Jackson, there were five coaches who have come and gone prior to the arrival of Thibodeau and while the names who preceded him were all decent guys, none of them had the respect of the players the way that Thibodeau does. Despite the fact that some of us may question his inability to let off the gas pedal every so often, all of his players respect him not only as a coach, but also as a person. This in itself, is a major accomplishment.
In his first year with the team, he guided the Bulls to the top spot in the East en route to the team's first trip to the Conference Finals since 1998. While it was disappointing to see them fall to the Miami Heat in five games, the Bulls were relevant again with a team led by superstar point-guard Derrick Rose and a versatile forward in Luol Deng, along with a coach who preaches defense first and everything else second. Needless to say, it wasn't much of a surprise that he received the Coach of the Year award.
Thibodeau helped the Bulls reach the top spot in the league for the second straight year in 2012, with a 50-16 mark. What was impressive about this was Derrick Rose missed 27 games and overall, the team had to endure over 100 games missed due to an assortment of injuries. No matter what the situation is, he always pushes the right buttons, thus getting the maximum effort out of every player in the rotation. While the Bulls' title aspirations were dashed once again with an early playoff loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, this had more to do with losing Rose and Joakim Noah to injuries, rather than his ability to coach.
Some could argue that Rose should have been on the bench with the Bulls leading by double-digits toward the end of Game 1 against the Sixers. However, injuries can happen at any time and there is no guarantee that taking him out would have prevented the injury from occurring somewhere down the road. Aside from that instance, Thibodeau has proven in every way, that he is the perfect coach for this team. So if the Bulls' brass is listening, I have three words to say - "Pay the man".
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has been a Bulls' fan since the 1987-1988 season. James is also a Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo and a Sports Journalist for Sports Rantz Magazine. For discussions about the NBA and NFL, Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693 and check out his article archive
"Avoiding contract extension for Thibodeau defies good sense", Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times