Jeff Van Gundy finds it interesting that the Chicago Bulls have yet to extend the contract of his close friend and former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls picked up the option on Thibodeau for next season, but no extension has been signed. After reports surfaced during last season that Thibodeau was unhappy he didn't have an extension, and that Bulls players knew of his unhappiness, GM Gar Forman said that talks about an extension had been tabled before the season and would conclude at season's end.
But over two months have passed since the end of the Bulls' season, and Thibodeau appears to still be without an extension.
"I don't think 'worried' would be the right term for me," Van Gundy said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think it's interesting, though. I would have ... if I was them ... most likely pursued and prioritized him earlier this summer certainly. Because just like a player, you don't want them to get into their free agency year, and certainly he would have many suitors if in fact they decided not to offer him a fair contract extension. And he'll have other options.
"But I know he loves it in Chicago. Everything he says to me is he loves the guys, he loves the city. And he would like to be there a long time, from what I can gather. But business is business from both ends, and we've seen how business has impacted their roster, so certainly it could impact their coaching."
Thibodeau was a long-time NBA assistant, including a stint as Van Gundy's assistant with the New York Knicks, before the Bulls gave him his first head coaching job. He signed a two-year deal with a team option for the third. Thibodeau guided the Bulls to the best regular-season record the last two seasons, winning coach of the year his first season and missing out on becoming the first coach in NBA history to win the award in consecutive seasons as he finished second last season.
Thibodeau has said several times publicly that he's not worried about his contract situation, and Van Gundy echoed those sentiments Friday.
"He hasn't intimated to me at all that he's irritated," said Van Gundy, who is an ESPN analyst. "All we talk about is their team, and how summer league is going most recently, how the draft went for them. He never has brought up his contract situation to me. He's never shown any irritation.
"Listen, he's been around the NBA a long, long time, took him a long time to get a shot, Jerry Reinsdorf gave him that shot, so he's very, very thankful for the opportunity he's been presented to coach some quality guys. Derrick Rose is as humble a superstar as you can have, and he loves (Luol) Deng and (Joakim) Noah. So he's been very, very happy to be there. But at the end of the day, he's going to have to do what's best for him, because that's exactly what the Bulls do in every situation as well."