Opening Tip: Thibs brushes off latest rumor

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
8:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Until Tom Thibodeau ends up leaving Chicago, the rumors surrounding his coaching future with the Bulls are not going to stop. The latest one came Saturday night when he was asked about a New York Daily News report that suggested people in the Bulls organization believe he already has a deal lined up to coach the New York Knicks next season.

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"Come on, now," Thibodeau said. "Come on. That stuff's ridiculous. It really is. First, I was being traded. I could care less about that stuff. I've said it before: I love this team. I love the guys that we have, and I love the fighting spirit of this team. So that's all I'm thinking about."

Thibodeau and the Bulls have done their best to push rumors regarding the coach's future as far away as possible, but this has become the new reality for the Bulls. Given the tenuous relationship between Thibodeau and the front office, any time a vacancy for a high-profile job opens up, Thibodeau's name is going to appear because he is one of the best coaches in the league. It's not a secret around the league that Thibodeau and the front office aren't always on the same page despite the fact that all parties involved say their working relationship is fine.

That fact came to the forefront again last week when Thibodeau admitted, without going into detail, that he did not agree with management's decision to trade Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. No matter what happens in the future, both Thibodeau and the Bulls front office shouldn't be surprised whenever more rumors pop up in the coming weeks and months. Moves made by the organization in the past, specifically the decision not to bring back assistant coach Ron Adams last summer, have set the course for how the rest of the league views its relationship with Thibodeau in the future.

Rose kept out of the spotlight: Thibodeau made it a point not to discuss the conversations he might have had with superstar Derrick Rose regarding the Deng deal.

"Derrick's good," Thibodeau said before Friday's game in Milwaukee against the Bucks. "He's locked into his rehab. He's dealing with things as he should, and we're just concentrating on our team and our improvement. … We talk about our team in general all the time. He's good."

Dunleavy trying to keep focus on the floor: Mike Dunleavy has been around the league long enough to know that anything is possible as far as trades are concerned. As his name continues to pop up in trade rumors, Dunleavy is trying to continue playing at a high level.

"You don't really react," he said after Saturday's win over the Charlotte Bobcats. "The amount of rumors that are out there versus the actual times somebody gets traded or something happens is so little that it's not even worth giving too much thought to. So that's kind of how you handle it. Nobody knows what's going to happen -- with this team, with this organization moving forward -- but we do know how we can go on the court and play and have a really good season. I think we're all kind of focused on that and not worried about off-the-court stuff."

Martin making most of opportunity: Cartier Martin made his first appearance as a Bull count on Saturday. He scored 11 points in 26 minutes and looked comfortable on the floor.

"A hard-nosed team," he said, when asked of his impression about the Bulls from the outside looking in. "I know Coach Thibs is very tough on guys here. These guys are a very good defensive team. But at the same time, they look to score the ball as well. I feel like it's a great fit for me."

The last word: Thibodeau on the NBA's new nickname jerseys: "Well I'm waiting for them to do that with the media."

Does he have nicknames for the media?

"Oh, I do."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5