In five seasons under Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls soared to heights they had not reached since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were collecting championships.
They never got to the top with him and now he is out.
The Bulls fired Thibodeau on Thursday, parting ways with the strong-willed coach who took the team to the playoffs in each of his five seasons only to have his success overshadowed by his strained relationship with the front office.
"It is our strong belief that there needs to be a culture of communication that builds a trust throughout this organization from the players to the coaches to the management and to the front office, a culture where everyone is pulling in the same direction," general manager Gar Forman said. "When that culture is sacrificed, it becomes extremely difficult to evolve and to grow."
Thibodeau went 255-139, a .647 winning percentage that ranks seventh in NBA history among coaches with at least 200 games. He led the Bulls to the top seed in the playoffs his first two seasons and was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2011, the same year Derrick Rose became the league's youngest MVP.
He thanked Chicago fans, his players, staff and their families "who have honored me and the Bulls by their effort, love, dedication and professionalism."
"We are proud of our many accomplishments, fought through adversity, and tried to give our fans the full commitment to excellence they deserve," Thibodeau said in a statement.
Chicago advanced to the Eastern Conference finals that season, but it's the only time the Bulls made it past the second round under Thibodeau, who had two years left on his contract. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who has not returned to work full-time following open heart surgery in April, is widely viewed as a top candidate to replace him.
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is feeling better and on track to return for the NBA Finals next week after taking a knee to his head from Trevor Ariza that caused "concussion-like symptoms."
That's according to Thompson's father, former NBA and Gophers player Mychal Thompson. He told the Associated Press on Thursday night that his son's energy was up and his appetite was back, but he still needs to pass the league-mandated concussion protocol.
Thompson was scheduled to be evaluated by a neurologist Friday.
Heat, Wade far apart
There is a significant difference between what the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade believe he should be paid over the next three seasons, and that gap has left his future with the franchise in question, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.
Wade must inform the Heat by late June whether he will opt out of a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season.
Atlanta Hawks backup guard Shelvin Mack will have surgery Tuesday to repair a severely separated right shoulder. His expected recovery time is three to four months.