He also addressed the team’s biggest need directly. “The area we really do need to improve is with our athleticism,” Paxson said. “That’s been evident this year. We’ve got some vets who know how to play and can score. But when you look around the league and the way the game is now, that’s an area we have to address. That is a part of the plan. We’ll try to do that obviously through the draft and free agency if we can. You always have the trade option. Right now, our roster is what it is.”
Thibodeau swears he didn’t need the dual roles, though given the public friction between Thibodeau and Bulls management during his tenure in Chicago from 2010-15, it’s understandable that he might want it. “It wasn’t an absolute,” Thibodeau told The Vertical. “The biggest thing for me was alignment. Not that you have to agree on everything. When you put competitive people together, there are going to be disagreements. But once a decision is made, you have to be aligned. There has to be a belief system. [Boston’s] Danny [Ainge] and Doc [Rivers, who coached the Celtics from 2004-13], they were very much together. Danny was very inclusive. Danny talked to me every day. I learned a lot from that. And I have that here.”
KC Johnson: Bulls officially announce Chip Schaefer hire as Director of Sports Performance reported last month.
But Butler's emboldened state after landing a max contract led to several disruptive moments throughout the season, in film sessions and on the practice floor, sources said. That they continued sometimes unchecked throughout the season didn't bode well for team chemistry, which started to fray in Thibodeau's last season. In fact, that reason is why there's optimism for Hoiberg's future. Even management now believes this core was held together one season too long, that any coach would've struggled to overcome this tired team's tendency to give in to adversity.
All indications are executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman will lead that attempt. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf long has valued management continuity and praises Paxson in any rare interview. Forman has cultivated a strong relationship with Michael Reinsdorf, the team's president and chief executive officer. Their wives run the Bulls' charity arm.
Hoiberg is viewed as his hire, though it was signed off on unanimously. Forman prevailed in the internal debate over whether to try to finalize a Pau Gasol-to-the-Kings trade deadline deal, though there was sentiment that with Mike Dunleavy just back the team could make a run as well as not loving the return from the Kings. Forman then publicly doubled down on re-signing Gasol, calling him part of the core. That stance has softened with Noah a priority, sources said, and Gasol also will entertain free-agency options.
January 23, 2021 | 8:06 pm EST Update
Ryan Saunders will remain coach of the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves, at least until he gets an opportunity to coach a stretch with star Karl-Anthony Towns in the regular lineup. “I haven’t even talked to (basketball president Gersson Rosas) about that — he hasn’t brought it up, but you’re asking me, and it’s probably hard to tell a guy that you aren’t doing the job when your best guy isn’t playing,” Wolves owner Glen Taylor said Saturday from his home in Mankato.
Taylor could make a popular diversity statement by naming hard-driving Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve to coach the Wolves. “I kid her about that, but I’m not making any changes — I’m talking to Cheryl, and we’re trying to put a really good team together for the Lynx right now,” Taylor said. “She’s planning on coaching them. “But,” Taylor added, “she’s an interesting person, isn’t she?”
For most of a year, Taylor has explored a sale of the Wolves and Lynx. How’s that coming? “Well, it’s not coming is the best way to say it,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found anything that for sure says I should move ahead.” Taylor’s price tag for the Wolves and Lynx is estimated to be in the $1.5 billion range. With NBA expansion — Las Vegas and Seattle have been mentioned — current team owners could each be in for a reported $160 million expansion fee windfall. “Obviously I’m aware of that — you’ve got to pick your time,” Taylor said, adding that no definite decision for expansion has been made. “The other question: Is now a good time to sell when you don’t have fans? And it’s not a good time.”