The Los Angeles Lakers are searching for a new head coach after Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, and the list of potential candidates seems to grow by the day.
One of the team’s targets is Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, per ESPN Los Angeles.
The Lakers plan to reach out to the Chicago Bulls for permission to interview Tom Thibodeau, a league source tells ESPNLosAngeles.com—
Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 01, 2014
Thibodeau is regarded as one of the best defensive minds in basketball. His Bulls teams play fantastic individual and team defense, and his ability to develop players in this area of the game was a primary reason why the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals and made another championship series appearance two years later (both series were against the Lakers).
Chicago has dealt with several injuries to key players during Thibodeau’s tenure as head coach, including two season-ending injuries to superstar point guard and former NBA MVP Derrick Rose over the last three years. Despite the roster upheaval due to injuries, trades and free-agent moves, Thibodeau has helped the Bulls maintain their status as a playoff-caliber squad that is extremely difficult to play against. Thibodeau has an impressive 205-107 record in four seasons as Bulls head coach, including four playoff appearances.
The defense-first style of basketball that Thibodeau preaches doesn’t fit into the glitz and glamour of the “Showtime Lakers” philosophy, but it does produce winning results in today’s NBA.
“I’ve been facing his defenses here for some time and they’re tough — very, very tough,” Kobe Bryant said during the 2008 NBA Finals, per the New York Daily News. “Every single team he’s been on has had great strategies and physical defenses.”
One of the Lakers’ goals in their coaching search is to find a guy who will work well with Kobe Bryant. Thibodeau has known Bryant for a long time, so there’s little doubt the coach would be able to rejuvenate the Lakers superstar as he enters the final stage of his Hall of Fame career.
The Lakers are in the midst of a rare rebuild, and for the first time in many years, their ability to attract star free agents is being questioned. Hiring an elite coach such as Thibodeau would be a good first step in the Lakers’ journey back to prominence.