NBA rumour mill keeps turning

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - Tom Thibodeau took his normal spot next to Doc Rivers for Sunday’s Game 2 in the NBA final under some rather abnormal circumstances.

The longtime assistant, who gets most of the praise for devising Boston’s defensive system, has agreed to coach the Chicago Bulls next season.

No official announcement can be made until after the final is completed, but unofficially Thibodeau has agreed to a three-year deal in the neighbourhood of $6.5 million US, slightly above what most coaches make without any previous head coaching experience in the NBA.

Thibodeau’s appointment isn’t viewed as a shock given his name has been bandied about with numerous teams in the last two seasons.

What’s shocking is how the NBA allows teams to interview a candidate currently under contract and in the throes of a championship series.

Some reports believed New Orleans had offered its position to Thibodeau, but wanted an answer prior to last Thursday’s Game 1.

When the deadline passed, the Hornets moved on and are expected to announce by as early as Tuesday that their vacancy will be filled by Portland assistant Monty Williams.

Then came a report that officials from the Bulls flew to Los Angeles to meet with Thibodeau, who was overwhelmed by the opportunity and signed off on the marriage.

“He deserves the job,’’ Rivers, a Chicago native, said of his assistant. “I think he’s the best candidate out there. I’ve said that for three years now.’’

The latest trend in the NBA features owners getting involved in the day-to-day operation of teams.

In Cleveland, Dan Gilbert has cleaned house, relieving Mike Brown of his coaching duties and announcing last week that GM Danny Ferry wasn’t going to have his contract extended.

The league-wide perception is that Gilbert is willing to allow LeBron James more sway in how the Cavs assemble their roster.

There’s the possibility of James leaving Cleveland for free agency and perhaps joining the Bulls.

Perhaps now people will end those rumours of John Calipari leaving Kentucky to rejoin the NBA and setting up shop in Chicago.

People are trying to connect whatever dot exists, speculating on how this relationship will lead to a new dynamic.

Connection

Calipari and James are said to be close and have mutual associates, a connection that had some believing both would end up in Chicago.

Thibodeau’s arrival in the Windy City will fuel even more speculation about James bolting Cleveland for Chicago, where owner Jerry Reinsdorf is very hands on.

Thibodeau is represented by Creative Artists Agency, a group that is tied with James’ agent, Leon Rose, who also represents Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani isn’t going to be leaving Toronto anytime soon, but it’s amazing how a coaching move has triggered a wave of rumours.


Videos

Photos