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Bulls know nothing of Thibodeau-Lakers talk — source

Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau yells during first half an NBA basketball game against Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles Sunday Feb.

Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau yells during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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Updated: June 3, 2014 6:31AM



General manager Gar Forman said Wednesday that he was anticipating a busy offseason, but he likely couldn’t have expected the action to start less than 48 hours after the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs.

According to an ESPN report, the Los Angeles Lakers will seek permission to interview coach Tom Thibodeau — as well as college coaches Kevin Ollie and John Calipari — as they prepare to make a big offseason splash.

A nice little Hollywood story, but one that likely will end up being much ado about nothing.

According to a source Thursday, the Bulls have heard no such talk nor received any hint that the Lakers would come knocking. Even if they do, Thibodeau is in the first year of a four-year extension that will take him through the 2016-17 season, so it’s unlikely the Bulls would even feel the need to grant permission to any team to meet with Thibodeau.

The lingering problem is a leaguewide assumption that Thibodeau and the front office don’t get along. Trying to squelch those rumors, vice president John Paxson said back in October that all the friction had been smoothed over before preseason camp had even started.

Paxson reiterated that point several times throughout the season, insisting that Thibodeau “is not going anywhere.’’

Thibodeau also got tired of the ongoing speculation, specifically when the New York Knicks were rumored to be pursuing him.

“Nothing needs to be said,’’ Thibodeau said in late February. “To me, it’s like I see it. I talk to Jerry [Reinsdorf]; I see John Paxson; I see Gar Forman. We talk all the time, so it’s just something that keeps coming up, and no matter how you answer, it will keep coming up, so I don’t waste any time with that.’’

In an interview last week with the Sun-Times, Thibodeau admitted that he picked the Bulls just as much as the Bulls sought him.

“When I was an assistant, I was fortunate to be involved with some really good teams,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s why I wasn’t anxious to take a bad job.’’

Thibodeau said he wasn’t going to take a job where a culture couldn’t be established with the right type of players — Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose, for example — buying in.

“[Former NBA coach] Chuck Daly had this great line that you can’t trick NBA players, and you really can’t,’’ Thibodeau said. “You have to have the ability to give them a plan they can really believe in. I think if they believe in the plan, they’re going to buy in. And you have to be consistent with them, and you have to tell the truth.

“If you do that, I don’t think you’ll have problems. But you have to have the right type of guys that are serious about winning. Everyone says they want to win, but very few are truly committed to paying the price . . . very few.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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