It’s a given Kevin Durant will be the NBA’s most sought-after free-agent player this summer.
Durant is a franchise player and franchise players seldom become available. Rest assured, teams are already salivating at the prospect of bringing the hall-of-fame in-waiting forward into their fold.
But while Durant will be the prize of the 2016 free-agent class, Tom Thibodeau will unequivocally be the cream of the free-agent coaching crop. Thibodeau sat out this season after parting ways with the Chicago Bulls, whom he coached from 2010 until 2015. While Thibodeau didn’t get the Bulls to the NBA’s Promised Land, it’s impossible to ignore his impeccable coaching record: 255 wins, 139 record losses — a .647 winning percentage.
It was also Thibodeau who guided the Bulls to five straight playoff appearances, to the Eastern Conference semifinals twice and EC Finals once.
One can safely assume several teams have already reached out to Thibodeau either directly or through his representation. A couple of NBA officials told me the Los Angeles Lakers, who are in desperate need of a jump-start, have more than a passing interest in Thibodeau’s services. And, I’m hearing Thibodeau is equally interested in the Lakers, building a team from the ground floor and, in his free time, enjoying the delectable California sunshine.
There have also been whispers about Thibodeau winding up with the Brooklyn Nets, where he could have virtually carte blanche with basketball operations. Thibodeau’s name has also been linked to the Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves, two teams with some prime-time young talent. Based strictly on talent, the Timberwolves would have to be Thibs’ team of choice.
And there are some officials who contend the Houston Rockets could be a player for the 58-year-old Thibodeau, who worked in Houston during the 2003-2004 season as an assistant under Jeff Van Gundy and who apparently still has good vibes about the organization and city.
Suffice to say, Thibodeau is going to be a coveted commodity.