It doesn't matter whether any or all of the above is true. It only matters that John Paxson and Gar Forman seem to believe it and don't want to live through another failed, painful rerun of this movie.
And so, they're trying not to fire the guy they want to fire because they think they can get something for him in a trade the way the Celtics landed a first-round draft choice for Doc Rivers.
Let's review the bidding: Rivers won an NBA title. Yes, Thibodeau was on his bench, but that was Rivers' bench. You could argue Rivers was worth some compensation for a loser franchise like the Clippers.
But Rivers' Clippers just choked a three-games-to-one lead to the Rockets in the second round, including a potential elimination game in which they led by 18, so I'm thinking that kneecaps any reason to offer anything to a team wanting to trade a coach.
The Magic long have been rumored to want Thibodeau, an idea that got new legs at the NBA pre-draft camp with a report they'd be willing to pay him between $7 million and $9 million and give him extensive input on basketball decisions.
That plan appears based on Thibodeau's availability on the open market. There was no indication the Magic would offer pieces in trade for Thibodeau.
The Bulls might as well be playing this hand with their cards face up.
The Bulls will try to sell Thibodeau suitors on the idea that he has been to the playoffs five straight years, which would be attractive to franchises that haven't. The Bulls would say they expect championships, not just playoff berths.
If the Pelicans, say, are dumb enough to buy that spiel, then they'll probably also trade Anthony Davis for Kirk Hinrich. Do that, GarPax.
The Bulls must be praying they can start a bidding war between two teams that desperately believe they must have Thibodeau on their bench. That's the only way this works, barring a serendipitous leave of senses by a franchise wanting to shove all in for a guy who never has coached a team that even reached the NBA Finals.
Here's the funny thing about the imploded relationship between the Thibodeau and his bosses who want to dump him: Thibodeau is the only one who can give them trade leverage by spreading the idea that he might sit out a year and collect his $4 million if he's fired.
Tribune hoops master K.C. Johnson reported that some close to Thibodeau believe he might take a year off and wait for Byron Scott to get fired by the Lakers, although why he'd want to go to a broken-down team with an aged, broken-down star is beyond me.
I mean, if Thibodeau and the Lakers think Kobe Bryant is the answer, then they have no idea what the question is. That sounds like a team dumb enough to trade something for a coach.
This denouement seems tired. I could be missing something, but the end game seems to have minimal value.
Are the Bulls willing to take a second-round pick in 2025 just to make sure they can trade Thibodeau to the Western Conference?
If Bulls management thinks Thibodeau's style destroys a team's best assets, then you'd think Paxson and Forman would want him in the East. Heck, let him go to Cleveland and ruin LeBron James, right?
Are the Bulls trying to trade Thibodeau for anything just to make sure Chairman Reinsdorf doesn't have to pay another coach not to coach?
If the Chairman actually has the right director of basketball operations and general manager, then he ought to believe they should be able to cover the salary by finding a coach to lead his team to a title and the lucre that comes with it.
Then again, a smart chairman ought to notice that the coach who has fallen into disfavor isn't the only high-ranking Bulls suit who hasn't reached the NBA Finals in his current position.
It seems as if there will a lot of effort and acting and lying and story-telling required to maybe get some piddling thing from another team.
Doesn't Bulls management have something better to do?