As the Bulls set their sights on landing an impact player this summer to pair with Derrick Rose, will the perceived rift between the front office and coach Tom Thibodeau affect their ability to recruit talent to Chicago?
From what he's hearing around the league, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith believes it will.
"Tom Thibodeau is an exceptional coach. He scares the living daylights out of you because, accurate or not, people believe that he'll run you to death in practice," Smith said Wednesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I don't know how accurate that is I just know that Luol Deng seemed like he aged in dog years playing for him.
"But the other side to all of this is that the relationship with [Bulls executive vice president] John Paxson has become a question mark outside of the city of Chicago and as a result you have folks wondering whether or not Tom Thibodeau is going to remain there for the long haul. They know he's under contract for the next [three] years but when you talk about free agents coming there, you're talking about three years or more and they don't want to find themselves in a situation where they are looking at Derrick Rose, who some believe was given too much of a responsibility and onus was placed on his shoulders not to mention the fact that you've got a coach who everybody respects as elite being on the outs with an executive running the franchise because you don't know how long Tom Thibodeau is going to last in Chicago.
"Those couple of things, at the very least, are question marks that have created a degree of apprehension."
Thibodeau and the front office have clashed at times over the firing of assistant Ron Adams, a Thibodeau confidant who was let go by general manager Gar Forman, and the trade of Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in January. Last month a report from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin said that the Lakers planned to ask the Bulls' permission to interview Thibodeau for the head coaching position. Both sides have remained silent.
"I would say Kevin Love if you were in Golden State or someplace like that where you have multiple scorers that can move the basketball, simply spot up and shoot," Smith said. "But considering the way the Bulls play, the way they come at you with that defensive tenacity, the way they don't mind somebody slowing down the tempo, ball hogging to some degree. They don't mind because really they just have defenders and rough riders on the court that are really blue collar workers with one elite scorer in a Derrick Rose.
"If you had a Carmelo Anthony there they wouldn't mind that at all. I think that he works better in Chicago's system than a guy like Kevin Love."