Roundtable: More likely to return next year: David Blatt or Tom Thibodeau?
SI.com will periodically panel its basketball experts during the 2015 NBA playoffs and ask them a pressing question about the league. Today's topic, two coaches who have been successful this season but face uncertain futures.
David Blatt has faced more drama than he ever could have imagined during his first season as an NBA head coach, enduring roster overhauls before the season and in the middle, while trying to adapt to the NBA game and keep the universe's best player happy. Tom Thibodeau is in his fifth year coaching the Bulls, all of which have resulted in playoff runs, but he might be nearing the end of his rope. Reports have swirled for months about clashes with the front office and Thibodeau's name continues to pop up in the rumor mill for other NBA coaching vacancies. With that in mind, we asked our NBA experts...
Which coach is more likely to return next season: Cavs' David Blatt or Bulls' Tom Thibodeau?
Ben Golliver: David Blatt.
Plus, the desire to part could easily be a two-way street. Multiple jobs are currently open—New Orleans, Orlando, and Denver—and Thibodeau would be one of the most sought-after (and highest-priced) candidates if he winds up entering the job market thanks to his reputation as a hard-charging defensive innovator with consistent postseason success.
Tom Thibodeau's drama with the Bulls isn't as out in the open—and that's because it's likely more serious. Blatt and James squabble like brothers might clash growing up. Thibodeau's problems with the Bulls are more deep-seated. Chicago has essentially played all of its cards to form a championship roster, the only variable left is the head coach. If the team comes up short this season, you can expect the front office to play its last card. As for the Cavaliers, Blatt and James are still feeling each other out (in a very public forum). Bridges haven't been burned. No damage has been done that can't be reversed. A trip to the Finals—and maybe even a Larry O'Brien trophy—could cure all ails.
DeAntae Prince: Blatt. The Cavaliers are in the second round of the NBA playoffs and could be on track to make the Finals—but of course, those two feats were accomplished in spite of Blatt. The Cavaliers' first-year coach hasn't been given the benefit of the doubt much in his debut campaign. He experienced bumps and bruises throughout his first year, with none more public than his attempt to call timeout he didn't have in the closing moments of Cleveland's Game 4 win. While Blatt needs to be saved from himself on occasion, he has yet to commit a fireable offense. And, with time, he can build a better bond with LeBron James and the rest of the Cavs roster.
Jeremy Woo: Blatt. If only because the vibe out here in Chicago feels like not even a championship could save Thibodeau right now. Cleveland is in position to close out the series and cruise on to the Finals, and that would give Chicago another second-round exit to add to the in-house Thibs attrition. Even if the Bulls pull this second-round series out, you wonder if they have enough in the tank to convince the front office to keep him around.