NEW YORK—When asked about an ESPN.com report that the Knicks could look to hire next season, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau responded predictably: “I have no comment on any of that stuff.”
Despite being a native of the East Coast (his home state of Connecticut borders New York), having previously coached in the “Big Apple” (he was a Knicks assistant under Jeff Van Gundy the last time the franchise reached the NBA Finals) and persistent reports between himself and the Bulls’ front office, Thibodeau downplayed any talk that he could eventually replace embattled current Knicks head coach Mike Woodson.
“Mike’s a hell of a coach,” Thibodeau said, before adding: “I have a great job. I love my team.”
“I don’t pay any attention to any of that stuff. To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement and never get away from that,” he continued. “There’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there that’s just B.S., so if you pay any attention, it does no good. It takes you away from what’s important, and what’s important right now is our improvement and getting ready for the next game.”
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The report indicated that Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury and future health status, as well as dissatisfaction with the prospect of All-Star small forward Luol Deng departing via free agency next summer could factor into Thibodeau’s potential interest in the Knicks’ job, especially given his familiarity with New York. But Thibodeau insisted that scuttlebutt about his reported rift with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and to a lesser extent, team executive vice president John Paxson, is a media creation.
“I deal with those guys every day, so it’s what we think and it’s what we know. So we’re not going to react to the stuff on the outside. We’ve got a challenge in front of us that we’re looking forward to,” Thibodeau explained. “For us, like I said, I’ve got a great group of guys that I work with every day, so we’re trying to find the answers. We look forward to this, this is a great opportunity for all of us and that’s all we’re thinking about, so all that other stuff is nonsense.”