Like a broken record spinning on a turntable, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau continues to spin out of control handling how he doles out minutes for his best players. Watching Derrick Rose hobble out of the game in the first half against New Jersey Monday night not to return was like seeing the season flash before your eyes.
I hate to keep repeating this, but it needs to be said until the coach understands it.
Saturday, Rose and Deng were still in the game with a few minutes left in a laugher against the Milwaukee Bucks that was over almost before it started.
Luol Deng played 41 minutes in that game, his first back from a wrist injury. If Thibs sees a player is ready to play, in his mind, it means the whole game, the future be damned.
On Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000 Tuesday morning, Bulls beat writer Nick Friedell was a guest on the show. He said, "Tom Thibodeau is so focused on the game being played that he doesn't look ahead."
That needs to stop—now. Somebody needs to talk to him, and I'm talking about the guys who hired him, John Paxson and Gar Forman.
When Paxson was unhappy with the minutes former coach Vinny Del Negro was playing Joakim Noah after coming back from an injury, he grabbed him by his tie and tried to provoke a fight.
I'm not suggesting the same tactic should be used with Thibodeau, but perhaps a sit-down to get him to focus on the big picture instead of always on the game in front of him would be a start.
Maybe they can have him write on a blackboard 100 times, "Our goal is to win the NBA championship; not just every stinking regular season game."
Many years ago, there was a movie so scary, the ad said, "Keep on repeating: It's only a movie."
Somehow, it needs to be drummed into the coach's head that it's only a basketball game. Don't take each and every one of them so hard.
For Rose, this time, it's back spasms. Before, it was turf toe. The possibility exists that in trying to keep pressure off the toe, he's causing the back pain.
The trainer was stretching Rose out at times during the game Saturday night because his back was tightening on him. Why the need to keep him in so long?
The same with Deng. Just because they're available to play doesn't mean they have to play 40 minutes. In a tight game, it's OK to keep them in, but when the outcome is no longer in doubt, pull them.
Your two key players have injuries, possibly because of the shortened season. Now is the time for caution.
The players aren't going to tell you to take them out. It's up to the coach to do that.
When a child puts his hand by a hot stove and gets burned, he learns to keep his hand away from it.
Thibodeau treats Rose and Deng like a Chicago deep-dish pizza. He can't wait to pop them back in the oven.
It seems like he's never going to learn.
Until something happens.