Tom Thibodeau's Impact on Chicago's Free Agent Prospects

Brian ChappattaCorrespondent IIJune 6, 2010

BOSTON - JANUARY 11:  Head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics is ejected from the game after his reaction to a flagrant foul call against Glen Davis of the Celtics during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at the TD Garden on January 11, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. Associate head coach Tom Thibodeau consoles Rivers as he leaves the court. The Hawks defeated the Celtics 102-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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When I first heard the Chicago Bulls decided to offer their vacant head coaching job to the Boston Celtics' Tom Thibodeau, I imagine I had the same reaction as most Bulls' fans.

Tom Thibo-who?

Then I found out Game Two of the NBA Finals marked Thibodeau's 153rd career playoff game. That quickly reassured me he was not another Vinny Del Negro.

Thibodeau is not one of the big-name coaches whose names were tossed around for the position. Thibodeau has never had a head coaching job before.

But he has the experience of a head coach, and that's more important than a household name. In fact, with less than a month remaining until 2010 free agency kicks off, the fact that Thibodeau is a relative unknown could actually benefit the Bulls.

Take LeBron James for instance. Based on the way he's acted throughout his career, he doesn't seem to be the type of player who wants to play for a coach whose personality is just as big as his.

After all, Shaquille O'Neal had to tone down his ego to appease The King.

Moreover, Thibodeau is coming from the Celtics, the team that just thwarted LeBron's quest for a championship. Thibodeau has coached great players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

He also coincidentally coached both Del Negro with the Spurs and Scott Skiles with the 76ers.

So Thibodeau has been around the league for a long time. He's worked under great coaches and has been on the Bulls' radar for a while. 

This experience won't go unnoticed by potential free agents. Former coaches have said he is a defensive-minded leader who gets his players to play unselfish basketball.

Sounds like the Bulls are going after a Skiles-like coach.

One problem the organization had with Skiles was his strictness, which caused the players to stop responding to him. Thibodeau has been coaching for a long time, so it seems he has a better understanding of what buttons to push.

Another issue with Skiles and unselfish basketball in general is it often does not mesh with large-ego superstars. 

That begs the question: Which free agent will be willing to abandon his pride and embrace a team effort?

The aforementioned James seems an unlikely candidate. He wants to be a billion-dollar athlete. That requires more than just NBA Championships. It requires daily appearances on highlight reels, multiple MVP awards and an outgoing personality. 

Dwyane Wade is a warrior. He won his championship while being the quiet leader behind Shaq's brashness. He has suffered several setbacks since the Heat's championship season, and has never complained.

Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire are both question marks, though Stoudemire played well under a similarly defensive-minded coach in Alvin Gentry.

Bulls' fans will undoubtedly have mixed feelings about the hiring, which is not technically official but is expected to be confirmed after the Finals.

But if a proven, experienced leader who does not have a large ego is what potential free agents desire, then the Bulls could not have found a better head coach.