EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Boston Celtics apparently will need a new assistant coach after the NBA finals.
Tom Thibodeau accepted the Chicago Bulls’ head coaching job Saturday, according to multiple media reports in Chicago.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers would not confirm the reports before Boston practiced the day before Game 2 of the series, but both he and his players agreed that Thibodeau would be a good choice.
"I hope it’s true, but we’re not going to comment on it, I can tell you that," Rivers said. “We’re focused on the NBA finals. There’s two teams. There’s the Lakers and the Celtics, and that’s what we’re going to keep the focus on.
"But on Tom, he deserves the job. I think he’s the best candidate out there. I’ve said that for three years now. So let’s hope it’s true."
Thibodeau, considered one of the NBA’s top defensive minds, was also a candidate for jobs in New Orleans and New Jersey. He was not made available before the Celtics worked out at the Lakers’ training center.
Bulls officials declined comment. The team and the NBA agreed to wait until after the finals are over to make the hiring official.
"We do not have any rules that prohibit a team from announcing a coaching hire during the finals," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. "In the Bulls' case, because they have no plans to consummate any deal before the end of the finals, we agreed that they should defer any announcement to the conclusion of the finals."
The longtime assistant was the architect of the defense that contained Kobe Bryant when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the title two years ago, and the one that helped them knock off LeBron James and Cleveland during a surprising run to these finals.
"Thibs brings a passion for defense, I think," Kevin Garnett said. "When you think of Tom Thibodeau and what’s his strengths, he’s obviously a defense guy. He watches an uncountable amount of film. He’s a worker. He’s a guy that loves his job. He does it with passion. If he is not with us next year, he’s well deserving of it, as well as anybody else on our coaching staff."
The Bulls fired Vinny Del Negro last month. He led Chicago to the playoffs in both of his seasons, but had an altercation with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson late in this season.