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The Chicago Bulls still have a Tom Thibodeau problem

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The Bulls did not retain Ron Adams, who happens to be Tom Thibodeau's top assistant. It's just the latest reminder that things are not calm in the Windy City.


Tom Thibodeau has his faults. He rides his horses far too hard, he's a screamer and he's said to be less than personable. But none of that changes his status as one of the best, most promising coaches in the NBA. He's a master of defense-building and has far more wins than the Bulls' roster had any business earning. If you held an NBA Coach Draft, Thibs would probably go top five. (Behind Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra, at the very least. Perhaps behind Doc Rivers as well.)

That success hasn't led to a very strong relationship with team management. A year ago, after the Bulls had earned the No. 1 seed in the East for the second time in two seasons under Thibs, management strung out extension negotiations. And now, the team has elected to send Ron Adams, Thibodeau's top lieutenant, packing over apparently money issues.

You see, the Bulls had to bump up Thibodeau's salary after he instantly became one of the most successful coaches in franchise history ... and apparently this is a zero-sum game. So, Adams is gone. (He wasn't technically fired; his contract was up, and he was not re-signed.) Early word from Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson was that Bulls GM Gar Forman objected to critiques Adams had made of the team's personnel moves (or lack thereof). The Bulls have since tried to wave away any concern, only to get Wojbombed.

Coaches and GMs who don't really get along can still function. The best example ever comes from Chicago, in fact: Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause were certainly not happy with each other on the path to six NBA titles in eight years. Good vibes aren't everything. In fact, a little distrust and internal politics can in some instances keep everyone sharp. Would you rather have an echo chamber?

But the Bulls' situation seems quite a bit beyond what's healthy, and eventually -- when the team has a bad run, when Thibs blows his top, when another team elbows in to try to grab him -- it's going to come to a pretty nasty head, if the reports are true. This is what being cheap and dismissive toward your awesome coach gets you, Bulls. The same thing you got the last time you were cheap and dismissive toward your awesome coach: a pissed off, exiting awesome coach.

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