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Thibodeau says he’s “fine” with contract situation as report states … well, that he’s not

Mar 31, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

Tom Thibodeau AP

It’s easy to get lost in the recent past.

The Bulls are a monstrously successful organization. They’ve won six championships in team history, all in the past 21 years, and have consistently made the playoffs. They’re an ATM machine for their owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owns the White Sox, an equally successful venture. They have Derrick Rose, they signed Carlos Boozer, they extended Joakim Noah and Rose. By all accounts they are a team that pays to play and isn’t gunshy about spending for excellence.

Funny story.

Not really the case historically. Reinsdorf is the anti-Dan-Snyder in a lot of ways. He’s reluctant to throw money out there, is inexplicably patient and careful with his spending, and yet consistently manages to win. But dating all the way back to Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan, the most successful coach and player this side of Auerbach’s Russell Celtics, Reinsdorf has unnecessarily drug out negotiations for extensions. The truth of the matter is that Reinsdorf managed to get Jordan for well below market value in a drastically different era of the CBA because, well, to be frank, the man is tighter than a diamond.

And we’re seeing that same trend carry through. He threw  the max extension at MVP Derrick Rose. But reigning Coach of the Year, probable repeat-winner Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau who has made the Bulls into some sort of giant-mawed, carnivorous demon that devours everything in its path? Yeah, he can’t get the dough for his future. And ESPN reports that he’s not so much OK with that.

Thibodeau associates privately insist that the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year is dismayed that he hasn’t been offered a more lucrative extension after signing a modest two-year contract with a team option when he joined the Bulls. Sources close to the situation say, furthermore, that his displeasure with the situation is an open secret in team circles. Although the uncertainty about his future hasn’t had any discernible impact on Thibodeau’s famed game-night intensity, it’s a development that has to be monitored.

Extending Thibodeau sooner rather than later would figure to be a smart move from Reinsdorf, since the coach’s value presumably can only spike if Chicago overcomes its injury woes to win a championship this season. But Bulls historians would note that Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles likewise had to battle Reinsdorf before extracting a representative salary from the boss.

via Weekend Dime — latest word on big NBA coaching decisions – ESPN.

Thibodeau, loathe to ever let a distraction brew a month out of the playoffs with his team humming like a finely tuned engine even without Derrick Rose, still out with an injury, spoke with ESPN Chicago and tried to straighten things:

“I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Thibodeau said. “I’m not worried about any of that stuff. I’m under contract. I’m fine with everything here.”

Without going into specifics, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told The Tribune last month that he expects Thibodeau to remain with the team for years to come.

“We certainly hope and expect that Tom will be with the Bulls well beyond his current contract,” Reinsdorf told the Tribune via e-mail.

It’s a stance Reinsdorf re-affirmed to columnist Melissa Isaacson on Friday afternoon.

via Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ‘fine’ with contract situation – ESPN Chicago.

You can see both sides here.

On one hand, pay the man. He won the most games in the league last year, he’ll likely win the most games in the league this year. He’s pieced together the best defense with a first-and-second-year Turkish guy who looks like Judge Reinhold, Carlos Boozer’s painted-on defense, and Kyle Korver. He’s put Derrick Rose in a position to win MVP. He’s managed lineups, timeouts, made adjustments, and survived significant injuries over the past two seasons to Joakim Noah, Boozer, Rose, and Rip Hamilton. He’s worth every penny. His voice makes Tom Waits sounds like honeybutter and he’s so animated on the sideline he’ a .GIF machine. He’s the coach every team’s fans in this league wants outside of San Antonio. There’s nothing short of a title, well-within reach this year, that he can do more.

Pay the man.

But you know what? Reinsdorf if getting great value everywhere he turns. He has the best team in the league, record-wise, and he’s still not in the luxury tax? He might be able to get the cost of Thibodeau down. Fifteen years ago he scoffed at the value Phil Jackson wanted to return to the Bulls, a meager sum in today’s game. But he did pay him, did get him back in. He’ll get Thibodeau back, this is just about saving a few dollars, which Reinsdorf, ever the businesman, is always looking to do. Even the son and chairman, Michael, is following his father’s approach. You have to admire it, even if it seems insane.

Thibodeau’s not going anywhere. There’s not a better job. He’s set to contend with Rose for 12 more years. Over a decade. He has the support of a major market team and plays in a nice building. This is just an unnecessary drama being played out over some money. It may be unnecessary, but it’s the way the Bulls do business.

  1. rdssc - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    If Thibodeau hits the open market after this season he will be gone. Knicks and Heat would be first in line with a contract well over 5 million a year. The Wizards would also be right behind offering big cash John Wall, Nene, and a top 3 pick. He is winning the most games in the league with a roster that makes you shake your head sometimes. Jerry is the cheapest owner in the league compared to the money the Bulls pull in. It is time for Rose to head up stairs and tell the front office what it needs to do.

  2. mistercharitystripe34 - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    There is no way Thibs leaves Chicago. He’ll get a hefty contract either before or right after the playoffs. He’s one of the only coaches who truly matter in the NBA. Gar Forman is not Jerry Krause.

  3. blueintown - Mar 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    “Reinsdorf is the anti-Dan-Snyder in a lot of ways. He’s reluctant to throw money out there, is inexplicably patient and careful with his spending, and yet consistently manages to win.”

    When did any of this become a bad thing? This is probably a good part of the reason why Reinsdorf is a bajillionaire. Being the anti-Dan Snyder is a good thing because everything Dan Snyder produces on the football field sucks. This is how good negotiators work. And, for the record, MJ never made below fair market value. He consistently set the market, and would’ve never played for what he deemed an unfair contract.

  4. glink123 - Mar 31, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Do some research, idiots. In terms of owner’s net worth, Reinsdorf ranks 26th out of 30 in the NBA. His total net worth, on paper, is $280 million. The only owners worth less are the Maloofs ($200 million – Sacramento), Peter Holt ($80 million – San Antonio), Leslie Alexander ($80 million – Houston), and Ted Leonsis ($180 million – Washington). One other detail you missed is that the Bulls still hold a club option on Thibideau for another year. This isn’t college, where coaches are extended with 10 years remaining on their contracts. This is the NBA. Can you name the last time a coach in the NBA was extended with more than a year still remaining on his contract? It simply doesnt happen. Not even the great Phil Jackson got extended during his entire NBA coaching career when he had more than a year remaining. Rest assured, when this season ends, the Bulls will reward Thibideau by not only extending him, but by also declining the option year they hold on him, so they can kick his 2013 contract value up higher than it is currently set to be. That’s the very reason they aren’t extending him now, because if they extend him, he must coach in 2013 under the below-market value that remains on the team-option from the contract that he signed prior to his first season as coach in 2010-2011.

  5. gmsingh - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Thib’s contract extension should consist of a blank check. Or would the Bulls prefer to bring back the likes of Vinnie Del Negro or Scott Skiles?

  6. glink123 - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Name the last NBA coach who was extended mid-year, when he still had an additional year remaining on his existing contract? tick…tick…tick… it doesn’t happen in the NBA. pretty much never. Not even to the great Phil Jackson, at any point in his career. It’ll happen after this season ends, when the Bulls can decline the team remaining team-option year, in exchange for a more appropriate 5 year, $30 million dollar contract. You read it here first.

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