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If Available, Tom Thibodeau Would Not Be Right Fit for New Orleans Pelicans

this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; The New Orleans Pelicans are waiting for the wrong man. Having recently fired Monty Williams, who steadily improved the team in each of his five years at the helm, the Pelicans are reportedly waiting to see if the Chicago Bulls ...

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Old 05-18-2015, 09:30 AM   #1
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If Available, Tom Thibodeau Would Not Be Right Fit for New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans are waiting for the wrong man.

Having recently fired Monty Williams, who steadily improved the team in each of his five years at the helm, the Pelicans are reportedly waiting to see if the Chicago Bulls cut ties with Tom Thibodeau.

"League sources confirmed on Wednesday that the Pelicans are waiting to see if the Chicago Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau are going to part ways," wrote John Reid of the Times-Picayune on May 13. "If Thibodeau is let go by the Bulls, he could possibly emerge as a candidate for the Pelicans' job."

Thibs nearly became New Orleans’ head coach back in 2010, but he instead (wisely) pursued the Bulls’ opening. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the coach appears to be on his way out of Chicago but has renewed interest in coming to the bayou:
As one source close to the situation puts it: "Thibs is gone. They know it and he knows it."


NBA coaching sources say there is unquestioned mutual interest between Thibodeau and the Pelicans, with Thibs naturally said to be very intrigued by the possibility of coaching Davis full-time after working with him last summer as a Team USA assistant alongside Williams under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Landing Thibodeau would be a sexy hire for a team that made some national noise by not only making the postseason, but also forcing the Golden State Warriors to sweat a little bit in Round 1.

Thibodeau is a great coach with a proven track record. But he is absolutely the wrong man for the Pelicans.

Playing (Over)Time

The Pelicans are kind of…well…frail.

They have some darn good players, not to mention one of the league’s elite in Anthony Davis. But this roster is filled with sub-30-year-olds who can’t shake the injury bug.

Jrue Holiday has played 74 combined games in the past two years due to a recurring leg injury. Ryan Anderson has struggled to stay on the court because of a variety of different ailments, from an MCL sprain to neck surgery. Eric Gordon has played 176 out of a possible 312 games the past four years.

Most importantly, AD has yet to play more than 68 games in a season. The three-year veteran is the future of the Pelicans, and they can’t afford for him to suffer any type of long-term damage so young in his career.

Thibodeau scoffs at the notion of monitoring minutes.

His whole premise does make sense—to an extent. These guys are paid to play basketball, and he’s paid to win games. If it takes playing the likes of Jimmy Butler (38.7, most in the league) and 34-year-old Pau Gasol (34.4, tied for 21st) crazy minutes to win those games, then so be it.

He addressed this concern when questioned by USA Today’s Sam Amick back in February:
No. Listen, I've been around a long time. There are so many different ways to pace your team. Like everyone, (outsiders) look at minutes but they don't know what's going on in practice. They don't know how much contact you have (in practice). They don't know what your philosophy is in terms of days off. Is (practice) after back to backs? Is first day of a road trip? Is (practice) a day off after never more than three consecutive days? Whatever it might be, there's a lot that goes into it. But you also — if you're looking at performance and how you can get the best out of people — there's a reason why teams have success over a long period of time. You have to have core values. What do you believe in? Do you believe in hard work? Do you believe in discipline? Do you believe in conditioning? Because those are the things I know that do work.

Williams walked a different path. In January, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer outlined the difference between the development of Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel, who was thrown in the water and told to swim, and AD, who was given a pair of floaties.

Here’s what Williams told Pompey:
[Davis] was 18, 19 years old and his body was developing. He was 225 [pounds] to start the year. He finished his rookie year at 212.

So I had to do things necessary to guard him from injury, because he was playing against guys who were 30, 40 pounds bigger. Then when we played him at the center spot, he was playing against guys 270, 280.

Williams would go on to say that he does “see the benefit of protecting those guys who are wiry strong.”

See the difference?

Having served as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in 2004-05, Williams comes from the San Antonio Spurs' school of thought.

There is no concrete way to handle playing time, but there is definitely an art to it. Whereas Thibodeau pushes his teams to sprint from the year’s opening tip until its final buzzer, Pop and Williams view it as a marathon that requires pace.

How many minutes would Davis play under Thibodeau, 45? 47.5?

He already played 36.1 in 2014-15, and it's unfathomable that his PT wouldn't jump up with Thibs running the show.

We can’t point to a specific number now, but we can still figure out how many Davis and his oft-injured supporting cast would play: Too many.

Appeasing a Superstar

Davis played under Thibodeau for Team USA last summer, so as Stein notes, they have an already-developed relationship.

Davis doesn’t seem to have the stamp-my-feet-to-get-my-way trait in his personality. But just because he’s not a particularly squeaky wheel doesn’t mean that New Orleans shouldn’t supply him with grease.

According to Reid, the team did not give Davis a heads up before canning Williams, with whom AD had developed a deep bond on and off the court.

It’s not time to hand off the keys to New Orleans like Cleveland did for LeBron James, but the Pels need to be careful with their superstar. The team is trying to lock him up long-term with a lucrative contract extension this summer, so now would be a good time to expand his role in the organization.

Letting him choose who coaches the team? That’s a big no-no, and it’s a decision that will only lead to trouble. But the Pelicans should keep him involved in—just not in charge of—their search for a new coach.

ESPN TrueHoop’s Michael McNamara doesn’t believe that Pelicans general manager Dell Demps would even want Thibodeau, regardless of his ties to the Brow:

What McNamara is saying makes sense.

Sure, Thibodeau would improve NOLA's inexplicably poor defense, but at what cost? Signing on with either a college coach or NBA assistant might be New Orleans’ best bet to build something sustainable long-term. Mike D'Antoni, Scott Brooks and Mark Jackson are available, too.

Thibs would likely be successful for a year or two and then have to deal a roster that’s physically in shambles.

His coaching style is similar to what steroids do for a baseball player’s body. He’ll win now. He’ll hit metaphorical home runs and win games.

But that kind of success won’t be sustainable, not with this team. Long-term, he won’t be worth it.

Read more New Orleans Pelicans news on BleacherReport.com

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