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Saturday, December 14, 2013
Opening Tip: Thibs doesn't believe in tanking

By Nick Friedell

MILWAUKEE -- The idea of intentionally losing games strikes at the heart of everything Tom Thibodeau stands for as a coach. He doesn't believe that any team should try to lose, so that's why it should come as no surprise that Thibodeau is against the idea that some NBA teams tank games to have a better chance at a higher draft pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

"There's all kinds of talk about that," Thibodeau said before Friday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. "And, to me, as a coach, you put everything you have into each and every day. And that's what I love about our team. There's no quit in our team. We're going to play to win. I think once you start doing those other things, you're headed down a slippery slope.

"I think you put forth your best effort each and every day. I think every game is winnable, and then you're trying to build the right habits along the way. As we get guys back, I think we're going to be fine. I have great belief in our team, and that's the way you approach it. Some teams may not believe in it, but I also think [tanking] is risky. Everyone talks about the great player, but what happens to all the franchises that don't get the great player? If you look at history, it's not good."

Thibodeau's comments came in response to a question regarding what Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said earlier this week in regard to this season's heralded draft class.

"There’s no player that’s out there on the horizon that’s a Tim Duncan or a LeBron James," Boeheim told SNY.tv. "I’ve seen all these guys play. I think they’re very talented players. They’re not that kind of player. They’re not transcendent players that are gonna make your franchise into a 10-, 12-, 15-year-winning franchise because you’re there. I don’t see that."

Because of the time requirements NBA coaches have during the regular season, Thibodeau isn't able to watch as many college games as he would like, but he was able to watch the Champions Classic at the United Center in person last month, and he knows there is a lot of talent in schools these days. Still, he doesn't believe that teams should wait around and lose games, because, no matter how good certain players might be, there's always an element of luck involved with the draft.

"There is some very good talent," Thibodeau said. "When you think about it -- the lottery -- there's a lot of luck involved. That's how we got Derrick [Rose]. But, oftentimes, you might have the second pick, and it may not be that type of player. Whatever the circumstances are, I think it's important not to skip any steps. You do the best you can, you try to win now and then whatever the circumstances are in the end, then you deal with it then. I know [general manager] Gar [Forman] and [executive vice president] John [Paxson], they're out studying everybody. That's what they do. They do that regardless of what the situation is, and that's the way you have to approach it. For us and for our players, we have to concentrate on now, improvement and winning."

What's next: The Bulls take on the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. CT. It will be their fourth game in five nights.

The last word: Jimmy Butler, on picking up a much-needed victory against the Bucks: "A win is a win, but we've been in a little slump. We all know it. So getting that first win, I think it's the first of many."