Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

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Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 10:37 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet's "The Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday morning and while he backed away from NBA Coach of the Year talk, he did proclaim--at least initially--the Bulls to be the best team in the Eastern Conference.

When asked by Patrick, the show's host, Thibodeau calmly replied, "I believe we're there now."

However, it seemed that the first-year Bulls head coach was merely referring to the team's record, as Tuesday night's home win over Washington--the team's seventh consecutive victory and 12th straight at the United Center--gave the Bulls sole possession of first place in the East.

"I don't know if we're the best team. Our record says right now we are," Thibodeau later said. "There's a lot of work to be done and we're not complete."

READ: Short-handed Bulls nab sole possession of first

The ever-diligent strategist quipped to Patrick that he does "a little bit" of worrying, dismissed any premature Coach of the Year praise by stating, "I don't even want to think about stuff like that."

Thibodeau's answer was similar when he was asked about any added pressure after the recent statements of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan that team could win four and six NBA titles, respectively.

"We don't worry about any of that stuff. We don't want to skip any steps," the coach responded. "If you do the right things every day...the results will take care of themselves."

He was a bit more expansive when discussing the development of league MVP frontrunner Derrick Rose's game.

"He's been great all year from the start," praised Thibodeau. "What you see in the game is what you see in practice."

"He works on all aspects of his game," he continued. "He's challenged himself to be a great complete player."

"This season, he's taken it to another level because he's taken it upon himself to lift the other players on his team."

Patrick, who struggled with the pronunciation of Thibodeau's last name--as most do with "Thibs"--also queried the coach about the "goofy" side of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed Tuesday's win due to illness.

WATCH: Sam & Sam, Aggrey talks with Bulls.com's Sam Smith

"He's a character," said Thibodeau, who added the last time Noah made him laugh was "the last time I saw him."

"He's had a tough year with the injuries and now he's sick, but he's done a great job for us."

Thibodeau also discussed his tutelage under Boston head coach Doc Rivers and the prospect of facing the Celtics in the postseason.

"I've been very fortunate to be under a lot of my great coaches in my career," said Thibodeau. "The experience in Boston was great for me because it was at a championship level."

"I think once you get to the playoffs, you're not going to get around people; you have to go through them," he continued. "If we face them, we face them and we'll look forward to it."

"They've changed quite a bit. "It's not the same team...but they're going to be a tough opponent for anybody."

READ: Bulls bench playing major role in recent success

Patrick, who compared Thibodeau's speaking voice to "a young Phil Jackson," also asked Thibodeau about his involvement with last summer's recruitment of LeBron James.

"Helping the Bulls acquire James never came up in the hiring process; Thibodeau and James are represented by the same agency," said Thibodeau. "To me, they all earned the right to be free agents and choose wherever they want to go."

"It worked out well for us," he added. "I don't think anybody could direct LeBron and tell him where he wanted to go."

Thibodeau was also asked about the Bulls' early-season trade discussions regarding Carmelo Anthony.

"I know our management team had conversations, but that didn't work out either," he said. "I'm happy with the group of guys that we have."

The coach did, however, rebut Patrick's point that Anthony would have been a bad fit because of the perception that he's a poor defender.

"Listen, great players can fit in anywhere," Thibodeau noted. "Sometimes players can change."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

The state of the Bulls after the first half of the season

Who are the Bulls? The team that beat Cleveland and Toronto or lost to Dallas, Minnesota and Milwaukee?

That's the question Bulls fans are currently asking and the one Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill posed in the video above.

The Bulls have had impressive wins and shocking losses, but neither of those should be surprising at this point. The Bulls are, as Goodwill put it, consistently inconsistent.

The first half of the season has proven that Dwyane Wade still has some memorable moments left to give and Jimmy Butler continues to approach superstardom. On the downside, the drama surrounding Rajon Rondo has meant the 'three alphas' that were hyped up in the preseason haven't been the dynamic trio some Bulls fans had hoped.

Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't have the shooters his system needs, but can he still rally the troops and get something out of Rondo?

Watch the video to see Goodwill's look back on the Bulls' first half and what could be ahead.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Mavericks in search of third straight win

Watch as the Bulls take on the Pelicans today on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. What's Jimmy Butler got in store? On paper, Butler's performance Sunday night against the Grizzlies was nothing special. In fact, in many ways it fell short of his season averages. But Jimmy G. Buckets was on his game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him most, helping them to a crucial road victory in Memphis. Tonight a fast start will be key against a Mavericks team that struggles to play from behind.

2. Dirk Nowitzki is back. The Mavericks are finally getting back to full-strength, and the main contributor to that is Dirk Nowtizki. The future Hall-of-Famer is finally rounding into form after an Achilles injury kept him out of the lineup most of the year. In his last three games, Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting.

3. There was at least some rumblings that the Bulls might have considered going after Ames native Harrison Barnes this past offseason. Instead, Barnes wound up in Dallas a potential building block for the Mavs. And he's looked pretty solid through the season's first half. Barnes is averaging 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and nearly a steal per game in 36 minutes. It'll be a fun matchup watching him go against Jimmy Butler.

4. More 3-pointers on the way? It's easy to say that a 31-point outing will get you going, but maybe Doug McDermott can build on his career night against the Grizzlies. He hit 3 of 6 triples, made 10 of 11 free throws and even added six rebounds and a(nother) block. The Bulls will be able to run more against the Mavs than they were the Grizzlies, meaning more spacing for McDermott to find open shots. If he's hitting early, the Bulls are in good shape.

5. A three-game winning streak on the line. The last time the Bulls won three straight -- earlier this month -- it pushed them over .500. Now they've got a chance to reel off a third straight and again get back over .500. As poorly as the Bulls have played as a whole, the Eastern Conference is wide open at the bottom half of the playoff bracket, so these are opportunities they don't want to miss against a struggling team.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

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