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updated: 5/1/2014 9:27 PM

Off-season play already thickens for Bulls

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  • Will Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau be staying with the team, or, per Kobe Bryant's request, be heading to Los Angeles to lead the Lakers?

    Will Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau be staying with the team, or, per Kobe Bryant's request, be heading to Los Angeles to lead the Lakers?
    Associated Press


Well, that settles one Bulls issue.

Kobe Bryant reportedly wants Tom Thibodeau to replace Mike D'Antoni as Lakers coach.

Bryant usually gets what he wants, so that's that: Don't be surprised if Thibodeau leaves the Bulls for the Lakers.

Let's just hope Bryant doesn't want our entire museum campus, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, Lake Michigan and Jose Abreu.

Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf never allowed Michael Jordan to make personnel moves for the team. The Buss family, owners of the Lakers, might not be as firm when it comes to Bryant.

If Kobe wants Thibodeau, there's no telling what the Lakers would be willing to surrender to acquire him.

Thursday reports indicated that the Lakers intended to ask the Bulls for permission to speak with Thibodeau, who has three years left on his contract here.

This whole scenario is so intriguing on so many fronts, even more so than the Bulls' pursuit of Carmelo Anthony.

How badly do the Lakers want Thibodeau? Would he prefer them to the Bulls? Would the Bulls love to lose him?

It's no secret that the relationship between Thibodeau and members of the Bulls' family are strained. Nor was it a secret that the coach was a difficult person to get along with even before he arrived here four seasons ago.

One characterization of him back then was that he's "impossible," though I often recall the word being "insufferable."

Take your pick.

As good as Thibodeau is -- and he has been great here -- the impression is that's how hard it is to work with him at times.

Thibodeau always has figured to be a short-term coach with any team, like some other outstanding coaches whose personalities eventually trump their strategies.

Somehow, Thibodeau has managed to maintain good relations with Bulls players, especially key ones such as Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

With the front office … not so much.

Clearly, Bulls general manager Gar Forman has drawn a line over which he won't allow Thibodeau to cross.

To make his point, Forman famously erased Thibodeau buddy Ron Adams from the coaching staff and Thibodeau favorite Luol Deng from the roster.

Important in the aftermath was whether this put Thibodeau in his place or simply caused more tension inside the Berto Center.

If Thibodeau is looking for the better team to coach during the next few years, the Bulls with hopefully a healthy Rose seem like the choice. But if Thibodeau is looking for the better franchise to be with the next few years, well, the Lakers traditionally have been more successful and attractive.

If the Bulls want one of the NBA's best head coaches as they retool their roster, Thibodeau will be their preference. But if the Bulls want a better working relationship with their head coach, well, they will thank Thibodeau for his service and go in another direction.

Presumably the Lakers would have to send at least their lottery pick in this year's college draft to the Bulls. The Bulls would have three first-round draft choices to help build around Rose, along with the rights to European star Nikola Mirotic.

The downside is that if Anthony leaves the Knicks, the Lakers with Thibodeau might be more appealing than the Bulls without Thibodeau.

It seems to make more sense for the Bulls to make this exchange with the Lakers, considering that might be having nightmares at the thought of dealing with Thibodeau for three more years.

If L.A. agrees to send Chicago the "H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D" sign as part of the package for Thibodeau, that probably would be enough to seal this deal.

Whatever happens shapes up as the most interesting development in what already figured to be an interesting Bulls off-season.

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