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Doc Rivers not sure Bulls management appreciates Thibs

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau andthen  Bosthead coach Doc Rivers work sidelines during second half Chicago Bulls 89-80 wover

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau andthen Boston head coach Doc Rivers work the sidelines during the second half of the Chicago Bulls 89-80 win over the Boston Celtics Thursday February 16, 2012 at the United Center. | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 24, 2014 12:40PM



When it’s come to coaching rumors about his future, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been dismissive about their validity, while making sure to stay clear of causing any controversy.

Leave it to Doc Rivers – who was the head coach in Boston while Thibodeau was an assistant – to not only speak on it, but do so by also letting Bulls management know just what they have in their current coach.

“He’s under contract. So, yeah,’’ Rivers responded on Friday, when asked if he thought Thibodeau would be back with the Bulls next season. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t be. I think it’d be nuts not to have him here. I think he’s one of the best coaches in this league. So if you have that, that’s an asset. I don’t think any right-minded organization would allow that asset to leave. Because with all this adversity they’ve had with injuries, if you allow that one to leave, things will fall apart. That would be pretty much a guarantee.’’

Strong words from Rivers, but ones that also yell out – “You hear that Gar Forman and John Paxson?’’

“I think every year is his best coaching job honestly,’’ Rivers said. “I mean, last year he went through it, the year before. Every year, people keep expecting them to fall and they don’t. And the guy that’s standing there is Tom Thibodeau. He’s the guy. He’s the difference. He holds them together somehow. They make trades. They trade [Luol] Deng away and yet they keep winning. The guy that’s standing there every day is Tom.

“I just think it’s been impressive what he’s done. And not just this year, I thought last year was just as hard. In some ways harder because you kept thinking Derrick [Rose] may come back. You just gotta take your hat off to him.’’

Thibodeau was Rivers’ defensive specialist on the Celtics staff that won the 2008 NBA Championship, but according to Rivers, is more than just a defensive-minded coach. He has a system that works on both ends, no matter the talent or lack of.

“It’s his system but it’s more his way,’’ Rivers said. “He just doesn’t relent. He doesn’t believe because a guy gets injured – even a guy like Rose – that the team should go away. I think he instills that in his players. And he has some pretty good players who believe that. [Joakim] Noah is the other guy to me who stands out on their team. They have a lot of like-minded players to Thibs. Noah is that way. [Kirk] Hinrich is absolutely that way. [Taj] Gibson is becoming that way. And I think is all because they’ve been around Tom.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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