Tom Thibodeau 'fine' with contract
CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau insisted after Friday night's win over Detroit that he's "fine" with his contract status and isn't concerned the Chicago Bulls still haven't picked up his option for next season.
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ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported earlier Friday afternoon that "Thibodeau associates privately insist the NBA's reigning coach of the year is dismayed 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."
The Bulls long have maintained that Thibodeau's option will be picked up eventually, but Stein reported Thibodeau's displeasure with the fact that the Bulls haven't reworked his contract after he became the fastest coach in league history to win 100 games earlier this season is an open secret in team circles, according to sources close to the situation.
The Chicago Tribune, quoting team sources, subsequently reported Friday night on its website that "Thibodeau has raised the topic -- his lack of an extension -- with Bulls players."
Thibodeau, however, tried to downplay any notion of his discontent after the Bulls' 83-71 home win over the Pistons.
"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 affirmed to ESPNChicago.com columnist Melissa Isaacson on Friday afternoon.
I'm not worried about any of that stuff. I'm under contract. I'm fine with everything here.” -- Tom Thibodeau
Bulls players, meanwhile, are hoping Thibodeau's contract status gets worked out sooner than later.
"I think that Thibs really changed a lot, the philosophy around here," Joakim Noah said. "I know that without Thibs, we wouldn't be in this position right now. As a player, control what you can control, but if you ask me, I'll go to bat for Thibs any day."
That feeling permeated the Bulls' locker room.
"He doesn't talk about that stuff, but we need to get him an extension ASAP," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "He wouldn't talk about that stuff, but we know how great he's done for us and what he's meant for our team and the system he's putting us in and the way he's been able to manage (the season). This is a tough season -- 66 games crunched into like four months.
"I thought he's been a great manager for us; like baseball, he's done a great job of pushing us when we need to be pushed, of taking his foot off the gas pedal when we need some rest, and our record reflects that. At the same time, he's still teaching us the right things. And obviously, that's the coach we all want to play for til we finish."
Boozer didn't sound concerned that Thibodeau might not get the deal he's been seeking.
"I wouldn't worry about it if I was y'all," Boozer said. "I'm not worried about it. I don't think he's worried about it."
Chicago's reigning MVP doesn't feel that talk of Thibodeau's contract will be a distraction.
"I'm not thinking about it," guard Derrick Rose said. "You know me, I feed off positive energy. I'm not worried about it at all. He wants to be here. It has nothing to do with me, that's all the front office. I know they'll get it done.
On the whole, Bulls' players don't seem concerned about Thibodeau's situation. They just hope the process will take place soon.
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"Of course," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "Not just for me, but for this organization and what he's done. If we don't bring him back, someone is going to take him. He's that good."
Deng also noted Thibodeau hasn't discussed his situation openly with the team.
"He's not the type of guy who's going to talk to us about it," Deng said. "We're not the type of team (that's) going to talk about it. I think we all want to see him stay here for many years to come. But that's not up to me."
Information from ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and ESPNChicago.com columnist Melissa Isaacson was used in this report.