There is an interesting scenario that is being played out in the Chicago Bulls organization. The Bulls front office is resigned to the fact that the team is entering what many presume to be a rebuild mode while head coach Tom Thibodeau simply will not allow the Bulls to tank the season away.
Since the Bulls traded forward Luol Deng on Monday, Thibodeau has coached the team to a 3-0 record this past week. Beyond that, the Bulls have are currently riding a five-game winning streak.
If the playoffs were to start today, the 17-18 Bulls would be the five seed in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Bulls will likely remain in the middle of the pack in the Eastern conference for the remainder of the season.
Meaning the Bulls will be good enough to not be a lottery team and may be sneak by in the first round of the playoffs. But for a team that needs to rebuild their core, that is an unwelcoming fate.
The question now becomes who will win this power play between Thibodeau and Forman?
Forman is the general manager of the team and simply can keep making trades that further the rebuild process. For instance, Forman may look to trade guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Mike Dunleavy if an interested team offers the right the package. Normally, the trading of Hinrich or Dunleavy would be considered a minor trade but with the injury to Derrick Rose and the trading of Deng, Hinrich and Dunleavy have become primary players for the Bulls offense.
With the trade deadline a little over a month away, Dunleavy and Hinrich may be the two biggest trade chips that Forman has left this season. As much as the Bulls would love to trade Carlos Boozer during the season, it is no secret that the team plans to amnesty the forward in the summer. Meaning Boozer has little trade value during the season.
But there is a reason why Thibodeau is an annual candidate for the NBA coach of the year award. An award that Thibodeau should be considered for this season if he is able to coach this Bulls team to the playoffs. Thibodeau has an uncanny ability to coach up any player that is on the Bulls roster. That would be why the idea of the Bulls tanking is immediately dismissed. Thibodeau will not allow it.
The struggle for power between Thibodeau and Forman will likely continue well past this season. But one thing this season will prove is who–between Thibodeau and Forman–has the majority of the power.