Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls fired head coach Tom Thibodeau on Thursday.
Thibodeau spent the past five seasons as the team's head coach and led the Bulls to a record of 255-139. Chicago reached the playoffs in each of his five seasons and advanced as far the conference finals in the spring of 2011 at the conclusion of his first year.
However, the Bulls suffered a pair of first-round exits and two second-round losses over the next four seasons, and friction between the coach and front office apparently developed.
"Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization -- staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together," said Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement Thursday. "Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required."
Thibodeau had been an assistant for 21 years in the NBA before the Bulls hired him in June 2010. Chicago, with league MVP Derrick Rose leading the way, earned the top seed in the 2011 playoffs and beat Indiana and Atlanta before losing to Miami in the conference finals. Thibodeau was named Coach of the Year in 2011.
The Bulls again earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs the following spring, but Rose suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the postseason opener and went on to lose to eighth-seeded Philadelphia in the first round.
Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season and a depleted Bulls team grinded through a first-round playoff series win over Brooklyn before they were eliminated in the second round by Miami. Another first-round exit in the spring of 2014 against Washington was followed by this past season that featured the tension between Thibodeau and management.
After the Bulls were eliminated by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs earlier this month, Thibodeau stated in the postgame press conference that he expected to return as coach.
The Bulls, obviously, didn't feel the same way.
"When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach," said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. "But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed."
Thibodeau might not be out of a job long.
There have been rumors that the New Orleans Pelicans would be very interested in Thibodeau if he became available.