Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau secretly loves all the talk

BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter

March 1, 2014 12:50AM

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Updated: April 3, 2014 6:53AM

DALLAS — First comes the smirk. That’s Tom Thibodeau’s initial reaction as he’s being asked about his
immediate future as the Bulls’ coach or about his relationship with the front office.

Then comes a head shake before the question is even finished.

There’s a brief moment of seriousness as he downplays the talk, quickly turning into a small dig at the media for fanning the flames.

And the Oscar goes to . . .

Don’t believe for a second that Thibodeau minds all the fuss about where he’ll be coaching beyond this season. It shows he’s the most influential coach/manager Chicago has. You can even throw him on the Mount Rushmore of active NBA coaches, nestled among Erik Spoelstra, Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers.

All the talk does is elevate his status. Thibodeau has the upper hand.

◆ Best mask: LeBron James’ against the New York Knicks, Bane’s in ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises’’ or the Gimp’s from ‘‘Pulp Fiction’’?

◆ Who gets a better free-agent deal this summer, Lance Stephenson or Luol Deng? Best guess is Deng will get $11 million a year and Stephenson $10 million. Then again, it only takes one dumb general manager to overpay.

◆ There’s no bigger Charlotte Bobcats fan right now than Bulls GM Gar Forman.

Player of the week

Carmelo Anthony, Knicks forward. Poor ’Melo. He averages 38.8 points in a five-game span entering the weekend, but the Knicks lose four of those games.

Team of the week

Miami Heat. Ended the Bulls’ five-game winning streak last Sunday without James in the lineup. Then, with James back, humiliated the fading Knicks.

The big five

1. Heat. 2. Indiana Pacers. 3.  Oklahoma City Thunder. 4. San Antonio Spurs. 5. Portland Trail Blazers.

Awful for Andrew

The three teams bad enough to start tanking in hopes of drafting Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins: 1. Milwaukee Bucks. 2.  Philadelphia 76ers. 3. Orlando Magic.

Big number

21-4 The Thunder’s record with Russell Westbrook in the lineup before his knee surgery in December. The Thunder is 1-3 since his return last week.

Two to watch

Golden State Warriors at Pacers, 6 p.m. Tuesday: The Warriors are sitting in the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and fighting for their playoff lives the next six weeks.

Heat at Spurs, 7 p.m. Thursday. A rematch of the NBA Finals between two teams wanting to flex some muscle with the stretch run beginning.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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