<
>

Tom Thibodeau out in Chicago

The Chicago Bulls have dismissed head coach Tom Thibodeau, the team said Thursday.

Thibodeau just finished his fifth season leading the Bulls, who were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals earlier this month. He had two years and nearly $9 million remaining on his contract.

The 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year had a .647 win percentage in the regular season (255-139) for Chicago, and that's with star point guard Derrick Rose playing only 181 of 394 games because of injuries. His teams excelled defensively, ranking first in the league in points per game (92.6) and field goal percentage (43.2) since the 2010-11 season, his first.

But sources say the Bulls' dissatisfaction with their coach, beyond the well-chronicled tension between Thibodeau and management, had risen in the wake of Chicago's inability to beat the injury-plagued Cavaliers in the playoffs and a lack of offensive flow to match that usual defensive tenacity.

Overall, the Bulls struggled in the postseason under Thibodeau, going 23-28 in five appearances, none of which resulted in a trip to the NBA Finals. The furthest they went was the East finals in 2010-11, losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games.

And Chicago's offense fluctuated under the 57-year-old Thibodeau. The team's offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) ranked 24th in 2012-13 and 28th in 2013-14 before improving to 10th this season. It didn't help that Rose dealt with knee injuries much of the time. Thibodeau was 132-49 (.729) with the 2010-11 league MVP during the regular season and 123-90 (.577) without him.

Now, the Bulls will be searching for their 22nd head coach in franchise history (including interim).

Their interest in Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg as a replacement for Thibodeau has been an open secret around the league for months, but it is not yet clear whether Chicago has a commitment from Hoiberg to make the jump to the pros. The Minnesota Timberwolves also are known to have a strong interest in Hoiberg.

Thibodeau, meanwhile, may not be out of work for long.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic are known to be interested in speaking to him about their head-coaching vacancies. Former Magic guard Scott Skiles is the widely reported front-runner for the Orlando job, while he, Golden State Warriors associate head coach Alvin Gentry and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy have emerged as the known top candidates in New Orleans besides Thibodeau.

ESPN.com reported last week that Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt's odds of keeping that job full time have improved since season's end, but Thibodeau was realistically never a candidate in Denver anyway.

Information from ESPN.com's Nick Friedell and Marc Stein was used in this report.