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Lakers want permission to talk to Thibs

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 12:17 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, May 2, 2014 12:22 a.m. CST
(Alex Brandon)
Tom Thibodeau, who was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2011, has guided the Bulls to the playoffs the last 2 years without star Derrick Rose. The Lakers think he could work some of that magic in Los Angeles, and would like to talk to him about their vacant coaching job.

The Bulls expected a busy offseason. Merely at its outset, they couldn't have envisioned what transpired Thursday.

Los Angeles-based media ran with news that the Lakers will seek permission from the Bulls to interview Tom Thibodeau for their vacant head coaching position, created when Mike D'Antoni resigned.

Thibodeau, the 2011 Coach of the Year, just finished the first of a 4-year extension through 2017 worth $17.5 million.

As of Thursday evening, the Bulls hadn't heard from the Lakers. When similar rumors surfaced during last season that the Knicks – before hiring Phil Jackson as team president – might pursue Thibodeau at season's end, indications were the Bulls either wouldn't grant permission, or would place very high demands on possible compensation.

It's logical that same thinking would apply should the Lakers call.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thibodeau is merely one name on a long list of high-profile candidates the Lakers are considering in a search that is expected to last for weeks.

Sources said Thibodeau was involved last summer in planning discussions for the Bulls' new practice facility scheduled to open in August or September.

He also has been involved in personnel discussions regarding next season, with sources indicating he is a proponent of trying to add Carmelo Anthony.

Given that Anthony has spoken highly of Thibodeau, the coach would be an attractive recruiting piece if the Bulls remain serious in their pursuit of him if, as expected, he opts to become a free agent.

The fact the Lakers even would seek permission to interview a coach who has won at a high level with his current team and has 3 years remaining on his contract underscores one of the league's worst-kept secrets — that Thibodeau's relationship with management isn't perfect.

Several incidents – Thibodeau taking months to sign his extension, the ouster of lead assistant coach Ron Adams after last season, the Luol Deng trade and other personnel decisions – have created an occasionally divisive working atmosphere.

Both parties have downplayed the dysfunction publicly. And there were stretches of a more harmonious relationship this season, though the Deng trade caught Thibodeau off-guard.

Thibodeau has established himself as one of the game's elite coaches. Thibodeau also has a strong relationship with ownership, loves coaching Derrick Rose, and enjoys the city of Chicago.

Thibodeau has ties to Lakers star Kobe Bryant, working him out as a youth in Philadelphia when Thibodeau worked as a 76ers assistant coach. But the Lakers are in a rebuilding mode, and Thibodeau repeatedly praised the Bulls' core last season.

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