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Thibodeau plays good soldier after losing Deng

Updated: January 8, 2014 12:10AM

Jobs were defined in the last 24 hours, and Tom Thibodeau’s is to coach, period.

Thibodeau did his best to refrain from commenting on the trade of Luol Deng to the Cavaliers, whether he agreed with it or not.

“Yeah, I had a chance to voice my opinion,’’ Thibodeau said Tuesday. “Their job is to make financial decisions, to make player-personnel decisions and things of that nature. Their job is to do that. My job is to coach the guys that are here.’’

And that’s exactly what Thibodeau plans to do, with his foot pushed all the way to the floor, as usual.

“You handle whatever’s in front of you,’’ Thibodeau said. “I’ve been through all kinds of different situations. We’ll deal with it. I’m not conceding anything.’’

But how will this deal affect the fragile relationship between Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman?

“Our working relationship with Tom is really good,’’ vice president John Paxson said. “Look, it’s not realistic to ask Tom or his staff to be happy about taking a player of Lu’s caliber off your team. Gar and I put ourselves in Tom’s shoes a lot, every day really. We know what he’s facing. We’re not sitting up here, saying, ‘Be happy about it.’ It’s hard; it’s difficult.

“But what has to happen in an organization is that when decisions are made, as a group, you have to align together and you have to move forward. Our focus now has to be on how best to use the advantages of what we’ve just done.’’

Thibodeau already seems to have done that, taking an almost defiant stance that he can win with whatever talent management provides him.

There was speculation that Thibodeau might be so angry about the decision to move Deng that he could no longer work with Forman or Paxson, but that’s just not the case.

“No,’’ Thibodeau said of any resentment, ‘‘because you want to communicate with everybody — your owner, management. Sometimes things may not go your way, but you have to be professional about it and move forward.

‘‘There are a lot of decisions that get made. As long as you have your input, that’s all you can ask for.’’


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