Reports surfaced during this past season that Thibodeau was unhappy he had not received an extension, and that Bulls players knew his feelings. Bulls GM Gar Forman said at the time that talks about an extension were tabled at the start of the season and would resume afterward, but no extension has been announced, although the team did pick up the option for 2013.
Thibodeau publicly has maintained that he's fine with his situation.
"I think it's a disgrace that they haven't taken care of Tom Thibodeau," Barkley said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "This guy is unbelievable. I'm surprised they haven't given him a long ... But apparently (the Chicago Bears) screwed Matt Forte for the last year and a half. Something bout you guys in Chicago, you're all cheap, you don't want to pay people."
Barkley said the fact the Bulls have had the league's best record the last two regular seasons is a testament to Thibodeau.
"The Bulls came out of nowhere the last two years," Barkley said. "And let's be honest, (Joakim) Noah is my favorite player, you know I'm a big Derrick Rose fan, he's just a flat-out stud, but for that team to have the best record in the NBA (in 2010-11) and be right there again (in '11-12), and I have to tell you something, it ain't like they have a bunch of (butt-kickers) on that team, I might add. They just play great defense, and they play with great energy. But when you stack up the Bulls against the elite teams, they're not the most talented bunch in the world."
Even without that talent, however, Barkley believes the Bulls can compete with Rose out while rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL. Whether they can compete for a title is another question.
"I think they can win 50 games," he said. "The question is: Are they legitimate contenders? They're going to be so well coached, and everybody on that team plays hard, I think they're going to win 50 games.
"If you play defense like they play, and you play with great energy ... I think hard work and playing hard is probably ... One of the reasons a lot of the teams in the NBA such is they go for talent instead of substance. There are a bunch of players in the NBA who can't play, who you can't win with. But if you play hard and smart like the Bulls are going to, they're going to win some games that they probably shouldn't win. But the question is going to be: Are they legit contenders? That's the big question."