- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau missed Monday's shootaround because he was attending his father's funeral services in Connecticut but will coach the team against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Thibodeau's father, Thomas Sr., 83, died Christmas Day in New Britain, Conn., according to an obituary in the Hartford Courant. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ann, and six children. Described as "an avid fan of St. Bonaventure and the Chicago Bulls," the obituary referenced how happy Thomas Sr. was to be able to ride in the Boston Celtics' championship parade in 2008. His son was an assistant coach on Doc Rivers' staff at the time.
Tom Thibodeau said it wasn't a very difficult decision to coach after his father's funeral.
"Not really," he said. "I think it's something my father would have wanted. And our family, once I saw that they were good, I felt good about [the decision]."
Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin ran the Bulls' shootaround.
"I guess he kind of kept it to himself," guard Jimmy Butler said of Thibodeau's loss, "but he's still the competitor and wants to win and all of that good stuff, but we know what he's feeling, so we'll be there for him."
Meanwhile, Butler said his injured toe is feeling "much better." He is expected to play Monday against the Grizzlies. He appeared to tweak the toe in Saturday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks and was limping noticeably in the locker room after playing 46 minutes.
"I feel like it was just a lot of pain after that game," Butler said. "But then the next morning, I felt even better because it stretched it out and it gave me a lot more flexibility in my toe. So maybe doing that little bit, even though I hurt right then and there, it was better for the long run."
Thibodeau said before Monday's game that Luol Deng, who missed the previous four games with an Achilles injury, is getting closer to returning but he's not there yet.
"He said he's feeling a lot better," Thibodeau said. "He's real close so we'll see where he is [Tuesday]."
Deng and the Bulls have taken a much more cautious approach with his rehab compared to years past.
"He came back and he had a setback and he had to sit again," Thibodeau said. "So we want to make sure that he's good, and once that occurs, then we'll move forward from there."
11hMichael C. Wright