The Chicago Bulls fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs again and heading into the offseason, the status of Tom Thibodeau and the free agency of Jimmy Butler are the top priorities for the team and the franchise may work out a trade with Thibodeau over firing him, while Butler is expected to stay on a max contract as a free agent.
The Bulls won the first game of the series against the Cavaliers, but they ended up getting knocked out of the playoffs by LeBron James once again. Thibodeau's job status has been talked about all year and it has been long reported that the front office and the head coach have had friction. According to the Chicago Tribune, Thibodeau could be pushed out by the Bulls or the team could try and work out a trade. The report details the relationship between executive vice president John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and Thibodeau, saying that it has had "problems."
The situation is interesting because Thibodeau has two years on his contract and according to Mark Carman at FanSided, Thibodeau could look at sitting out next season over being traded by the Bulls. Carman writes that Thibodeau may "not allow himself to be traded to help the Bulls" and that could cause him to sit out for this season. Thibodeau has been linked to the Orlando Magic job and could be an option for the New Orleans Pelicans if he ends up being available.
The Bulls also have Jimmy Butler to deal with and all signs point to him remaining in Chicago for the near future. According to USA Today, Butler said earlier in May that his intention is to stay with the Bulls, as he was quoted as saying that "this is a place for me" and that "I'm happy to be here." While that is no guarantee that Butler will stay, he is a restricted free agent the Bulls have some control over what happens. The Lakers reportedly will offer Butler a max contract and other teams like the Celtics, Spurs or Knicks could also consider giving him an offer sheet.
Pro Basketball Talk reports that the Bulls will match any offer sheet that Butler gets and that they have every intention of keeping him this summer. Butler surely made the right decision rejecting a contract extension from the Bulls earlier in the season, as he has made himself a ton of money with how he has played. Butler is just 25-years-old and he is coming off of his best season after averaging 20 points, six rebounds and three assists with nearly two steals per game.
Some have compared the situation with Thibedeau to what happened with the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh, as he was another head coach that had a consistent run of success, but was pushed out by the front office. Thibodeau helped bring the Bulls back to the playoffs on a consistent basis and he had to do it without Derrick Rose over the past two seasons leading into this year. Thibodeau is known as a hard coach and he can push players hard in practice and that also could be an issue for the front office.