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Thibodeau to Knicks? Coach has ‘no comment’ before Bulls’ loss

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Updated: December 11, 2013 10:59PM



NEW YORK – It’s not getting any better for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

The play of his team on the court is lifeless, and rumors of on-going friction between coach and front office are alive and well.

The latest involved Thibodeau being courted by the New York Knicks, where he was an assistant coach from 1996-2003.

In the scenario, the Knicks would be ridding themselves of Mike Woodson, and then go in pursuit of Thibodeau by giving the Bulls compensation to get him out of his current contract, which still has three more years on it.

“I have no comment on any of that stuff,’’ Thibodeau said Wednesday, before watching his team overcome a 23-point deficit to tie the game late in the fourth, only to fall short in the final two minutes and lose to New York 83-78. “Mike’s a hell of a coach. I have a great job. I love my team.

“I don’t pay any attention to any of that stuff. To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement and never get away from that. There’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there that’s just B.S., so if you pay any attention, it does no good. It takes you away from what’s important, and what’s important right now is our improvement and getting ready for the next game.’’

Every Thibodeau rumor over the last year is predicated on the idea that he and general manager Gar Forman and John Paxson are heading down a path where they can no longer co-exist. While both sides admitted that there were some rough patches last season, that’s just no longer the case.

They may not be best buddies, but according to one source, after several sit-downs early in the offseason, the air was cleared where all three men walked away feeling like the relationship was more than just workable.

“No, because I deal with those guys every day, so it’s what we think and it’s what we know,’’ Thibodeau said, when asked if he was bothered with the idea of a poor working relationship between the three. “So we’re not going to react to the stuff on the outside. We’ve got a challenge in front of us that we’re looking forward to … so all that other stuff is nonsense.’’

During training camp in October, there was one report in which an unnamed source described the relationship between Thibodeau and Forman as, “a toxic relationship that I believe will ultimately derail them.’’

That brought Paxson out from behind the scenes.

“We’re so far past that,’’ Paxson said to the Sun-Times then. “If you’re really going to say something like that then go on the record, be a man, put your name out there. Don’t hide behind that stuff. But from our perspective, from our seat, we’re doing great. The relationship is healthy. We all want the same thing and that’s to be as good as we possibly can out there on the floor.’’

Easier said than done for the Bulls (8-12), who have now lost nine of their last 11 games, and were 2-7 since Derrick Rose was lost for the season with right knee surgery.

Even the return of Joakim Noah and his 12 points and 11 rebounds didn’t help. Noah tied the game up with 3:38 left in the fourth, but the Bulls offense again bogged down, not scoring again until there were 10 seconds left in the game.

“We’re losing a lot of tough games right now, but we can’t pout,’’ Noah said. “We have to stick together through the hard times.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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