The past 24 hours have been confusing, at best, and far less comprehensible than that headline, at worst. Yahoo! Sports reports one thing, ESPN reports another, then Jeff Bower makes a statement completely contrary to everything else we've heard. A chronological run-down of the various reports/speculation/fabrication:
May 17th, 2010, Monday, 11:18 AM Central
ESPN: Thibodeau, Johnson Emerge
"Sources say Johnson and Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, meanwhile, have emerged as standout contenders in New Orleans in a search that has generated seven interviews to date."
May 21st, 2010, Friday, 12:18 PM Central
NOLA: Thibodeau, Williams Front Runners
"Boston's Tom Thibodeau and Portland's Monty Williams are the two front-runners to become the team's next head coach, according to a league source."
May 24th, 2010, Monday, 5:11 PM Central
Yahoo!: Thibodeau May Get Offer
"Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau has emerged as the frontrunner for the New Orleans Hornets’ coaching job and an offer could be forthcoming in the near future, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Hornets are moving toward formulating an offer for Thibodeau and don’t want to risk losing him to another team with a coaching vacancy."
May 24th, 2010, Monday, 10:36 PM Central
NOLA: Thibodeau Will Get Offer
After completing an extensive head coaching search that involved interviewing eight candidates, the New Orleans Hornets are expected to extend Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau a contract offer later this week to become their next head coach
May 25th, 2010, Tuesday, 10:42 PM Central
ESPN: Thibodeau Offered Contract
The New Orleans Hornets made a formal offer Tuesday to Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau to fill their coaching vacancy, according to sources with knowledge of the talks..
May 25th, 2010, Tuesday, 11:04 PM Central
Jeff Bower: No Contract Offer
"The New Orleans Hornets have not made a formal offer to any candidates involved in the process to hire a head coach. We have had discussions with many impressive candidates.
"We will issue an official update when we have concluded the process and have reached an agreement. Any other information should be considered rumor or unauthorized and unreliable information."
Where Are We Now?
Essentially, the only quibble seems to be about when, not if, Thibodeau will be offered a contract (assuming the ESPN report is wrong). So Bower's correction of the ESPN report isn't the end of the world or anything. The bigger question is: will New Orleans set a deadline for Thibodeau?
Boston could potentially eliminate Orlando from the playoffs tomorrow. Since the Suns evened the WCF at 2-2 last night, the Celtics will actually have two opportunities to end their series before the WCF ends (tonight, and Friday night). The earliest Finals start date is June 1st, meaning Thibodeau would potentially have the weekend to travel to/meet with New Orleans and finalize a deal.
The huge wrench in these plans, of course, is Chicago. Phil Jackson essentially ended his Bulls' candidacy yesterday, before it really began. From the Chicago Tribune yesterday: "What sources have indicated is Thibodeau is interested in listening to a pitch from the Bulls, who have requested permission to interview him." Chicago's other candidates appear to be Elston Turner, Maurice Cheeks, and Lawrence Frank, whom they're "cooling on." It's hard to believe that Thibodeau would not be Chicago's choice from that list. What if the Bulls offer him the exact same contract and promise that they'll be getting him at least one if not two of Bosh/Wade/Lebron?
It's a tricky situation indeed.
Update: May 26th, Wednesday, 1:30 AM Central
Woj: Thib May Cut Deal
Thibodeau isn’t talking, but friends believe he will work w/ NOLA to cut deal if offer made soon; don’t think he will wait for Bulls or NJ.
Big part of equation is respect coaches have for GM Jeff Bower. He’s considered one of most honest, straight up execs in NBA. A great boss.