http://espn.go.com/chicago/nba/story/_/id/12889933/tom-thibodeau-expects-chicago-bulls-coach-next-seasonCHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau says he expects to be coaching the Chicago Bulls next season despite a league-wide belief that he and the team's front office will decide to part ways.
"Until they tell me I'm not [the coach], I expect to be here," Thibodeau said after a 94-73 season-ending loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night. "So that's the way I'm approaching it."
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Derrick Rose and the Bulls have more runs left in them, but if Tom Thibodeau isn't around to coach them, his tenure will be remembered for bad luck.
Thibodeau said he hasn't thought about how he would handle things if other teams started approaching him, but NBA coaching sources tell ESPN.com's Marc Stein that there is mutual interest between Thibodeau and the New Orleans Pelicans in discussing the job that came open this week when the Pelicans fired Monty Williams.
If the Bulls and Thibodeau indeed elect to part company, it remains to be seen how the sides intend to negotiate a divorce with two years and nearly $9 million left on Thibodeau's current contract.
The consistent word in NBA coaching circles for months, sources say, is that the Bulls will seek compensation in the form of a draft pick for letting Thibodeau out of his contract, much like the Boston Celtics and how they extracted a first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers to pave the way for the Clippers' hiring of Doc Rivers in 2013.
NBA rules preclude teams from offering anything other than draft picks or cash in such "trades" for a coach. Players cannot be added to such transactions.
Sources say the Bulls have long coveted Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg as their top choice to succeed Thibodeau in the event of a divorce at season's end.