Is Tom Thibodeau Heading to the New Orleans Pelicans?


Tom Thibodeau has had some well documented issues over the past couple of years with his front office in Chicago. The escalation of these problems has left essentially no doubt that the current head coach of the Bulls will be on his way out of town.

Assuming this turns out to be true, Thibodeau would definitely become a leading candidate to head the Pelicans bench next season.

Most sane coaches would likely jump at the opportunity to coach star forward Anthony Davis, and Thibodeau is likely no different.

Mark Stein of ESPN had this to say about the potential Thibs-Pels union:

"“NBA coaching sources say there is unquestioned mutual interest between Thibodeau and the Pelicans, with Thibs naturally said to be very intrigued by the possibility of coaching Davis full-time after working with him last summer as a Team USA assistant alongside Williams under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.”"

If any kind of rapport has been built between Davis and Thibodeau, there is already progress in the right direction.

Getting the star acclimated to a new coach on good terms is vital: just ask Demarcus Cousins. If the relationship between the coach and the players is good, communicating the new philosophies and game plans will only become easier.

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The addition of former Bull Omer Asik, who played there under Thibodeau, was supposed to help solidify the Pelicans defense for the 2014-2015 season.

That plan did not exactly pan out, as the Pelicans finished the season ranking 22nd in defensive efficiency. Whatever the reason may be for that, the defensive focused Thibodeau would (hopefully) be able to turn New Orleans into at the very least an above NBA defense.

The roster will likely not change much from last season.

The only wild cards are Eric Gordon (who will likely pick up his player option) and Omer Asik (whose contract expired). If the Pelicans could get Thibs to come to New Orleans, Asik may be willing to agree on a cheaper contract to play under his former coach.

Though the roster would be the same, they do have a lot of potential for improvement on defense.

Apr 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) against the San Antonio Spurs during a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Spurs 108-103 and earned the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis’ awareness will continue to improve, which in addition to his freakish shot blocking ability, will lead to an even more unfair edge. Jrue Holiday is among the league’s best defensive point guards when he can stay on the floor. Tyreke Evans showed he can play on his man, and pending an improvement in his off ball awareness, he can become just as viable.

Chicago had generally bad defensive roster this season, and that was before all the injuries. Nonetheless, Thibs managed to will his team to the 11th best defensive efficiency in the league.

Many people including myself would love to watch these Pelicans fly up and down the court and set the scoreboard ablaze.

While that would be nice, Thibs would likely not allow that offensive freedom. Granted, that restriction would likely pay off for the team in the standings.

New Orleans had a top ten offense all season even with all of their injuries. Williams preached defense first Thibodeau would, and the Pels got the job done anyways.

The Pelicans have the talent to be a perennial playoff contender already. Even though they may not have an ideal team composition yet, the addition of a coach with the track record of Thibodeau would likely be enough to start.

Although, while Thibs may have enough talent to get by, he may not get enough money.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweeted today that the talk at the combine was that New Orleans may not be willing to pay handsomely for a new coach.

Thibodeau still has two years and $9 million on his contract with the Bulls, so the Pelicans would likely have to give up draft picks to snatch him away from Chicago.

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On top of that, he will expect to be paid as one of the top coaches in the NBA. Snagging such a great head coach would be great, but only if the price is right.

Most of the talk right now is speculation, Thibodeau is not officially on the market yet.

However, it is very likely he is on his way out. And the Pelicans will definitely be looking to strike a deal……

Next: Possible Candidates for Next Pelicans Head Coach