The pros and cons of hiring Tom Thibodeau:
Pro: He’s the best defensive coach in the known universe. If you believe in multiverse theory he’d probably be better than whatever coaches those alternate realities might throw out.
Con: Rides his players like pack mules. Derrick Rose is down to like one-and-a-quarter functioning limbs. The United Center court is compromised of around 80% dead Luol Deng skin cells.
Pro: One of the league’s foremost point guard whisperers. Turned Derrick Rose into an MVP. Won a road playoff game against LeBron James with Nate Robinson as his best player.
Con: Has the abrasive disrespect for authority of an actual gremlin.
Pro: Highly underrated developer of talent. Turned No. 29 overall pick Jimmy Butler into an All-Star. Helped Joakim Noah finished fourth in 2014 MVP voting. Nearly convinced America that Tony Snell was a starter.
Con: So allergic to young players and questionable defenders that he played Doug McDermott less than 10 total minutes in the months of January and February 2015. McDermott is now a 43% three-point shooter.
So hiring Thibs is something of a mixed bag. Let’s figure out who it makes sense for.
Should the Phoenix Suns Hire Tom Thibodeau? No.
There’s some semblance of a fit here. A roster flush with point guards could benefit from a coach who has had so much success with similar players. The No. 29 ranked defense in basketball could use a kick in the teeth. He’d even give Robert Sarver someone to complain about millenials with.
But Eric Bledsoe can’t stay on the court with a sane coach. What would Thibodeau do to him? For all the credit Phoenix’s training staff gets, they haven’t been able to fix Bledsoe and the team has far too much invested in him to let Thibs play him 57 minutes per game.
Should the Sacramento Kings Hire Tom Thibodeau? Dear God, No.
Job No. 1 when coaching the Sacramento Kings is connecting with DeMarcus Cousins. Thibs is the ultimate perfectionist. How is he going to react on opening night when Boogie misses a rotation? What will he say after Boogie shoots 1-9 from three? This is a powder keg.
Plus, this roster leaves open way too many possibilities for weird Thibs lineups. What happens when he starts playing Rajon Rondo, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos major minutes together because Rondo is their only ball-handler and the bigs are so good defensively? Would this team ever hit a three? Rather than tempt fate it’s best to just move on.
Should the New York Knicks Hire Tom Thibodeau? Probably, But They Won’t.
New York’s roster is fluid enough in the long-term that almost any coach could be a theoretical fit. Therefore, it would behoove them to just hire the best coach on the market. And unless their GM decides to make a comeback, that’s probably Thibs.
But Phil Jackson wants to hire a Phil Jackson acolyte, because damn it he’s going down with this triangle ship come hell or high water. Luke Walton is probably the best case scenario. Kurt Rambis is a very real threat… err… possibility. The Knicks might just pluck a random former Laker like Slava Medvedenko because damn it, he knows the system and that’s what counts to Phil.
Should the Brooklyn Nets Hire Tom Thibodeau? Yea, Good Luck With That.
How much dirty Russian money would Czar Prokhorov have to pay Thibs to waste three years yelling at Jarrett Jack? Would he just have to give him the team outright? No self respecting coach is coming to Brooklyn. It’s either going to be Vinny Del Negro, Lionel Hollins’ suspiciously mustachioed twin brother Schmionel Schmollins, or Old Gil for The Simpsons.
Should the Los Angeles Lakers Tom Thibodeau? NOW We’re Getting Somewhere.
This fit isn’t perfect. The young kids would drive Thibs crazy. But it’s the best on the board so far. Every combination of Jordan Clarkson, DeAngelo Russell, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. has been absolutely slammed defensively. In fact, the combination that should theoretically do the best (Clarkson, Randle and Nance due to Clarkson’s length and having two big men on the floor together) gives up 107.9 points per 100 possessions (in an admittedly small nine-game sample). Someone needs to teach these kids how to play defense.
There’s also the added benefit of Thibodeau’s Team USA experience. He’s been an assistant under Coach K since 2013, and that has meaningful value when it comes to recruiting free agents. Players who have played for him in international competition know what to expect from him, whether they will be comfortable playing for him, and that’s a tool most teams just don’t have in recruitment.
So this makes some sense on paper. He’d probably lean towards other jobs with less young players, but the Lakers represent a decent backup choice.
Should the Houston Rockets Hire Tom Thibodeau? We Have a Winner
Houston’s roster looks, on paper, very similar to what Thibodeau had in his early years with Chicago. James Harden can carry an offense and get to the rim like a young Derrick Rose. Trevor Ariza is his wing stopper. Between Donatas Motiejunas and Terrance Jones there’s at least one stretchy-four he can teach to play defense. And Clint Capela has moments where he looks like a young Joakim Noah on defense.
Thibs coached in Houston under Jeff Van Gundy. The Rockets would probably like to hire an established coach to send a message to free agent targets. They need a coach who can force Harden to play harder defensively. This is the best fit for Thibs on paper.