CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Tuesday that talks to extend the contract of coach Tom Thibodeau were initiated before the season and were tabled, but they'll resume once the season is over.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Friday that associates of Thibodeau insist the coach is dismayed because he hasn't been offered a lucrative extension. Thibodeau had no head coaching experience before signing a modest two-year deal with the Bulls before the 2010-11 season. The Bulls hold an option for the 2012-13 season.
"To us it's a non-issue," Forman said on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "Obviously we think very, very highly of Tom and his staff. Jerry (Reinsdorf) even come out and said it, we're hopeful Tom will be our coach here for a long, long time.
"We actually this fall initiated extension talks with Tom, and they were very productive. And then the season started and as you guys know the season has been extremely hectic ... I know Tom and his staff and our staff we all wanted to concentrate on the season, so we decided at that time to table it, but they had been very productive up to that point. And we'll get back to talking about an extension when the season is over."
Thibodeau downplayed the story when asked about it after Friday's win over the Detroit 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."
Thibodeau is a strong candidate to become the first person ever to repeat as NBA coach of the year. The Bulls own the best record in the league despite playing 21 games without MVP Derrick Rose.
A very popular coach among his players, Thibodeau's unhappiness with his contract has been an open secret in team circles, according to Stein and other outlets.
When reached Friday, Reinsdorf told ESPNChicago.com's Melissa Isaacson that he stands by what he said previously to the Chicago Tribune, which is that he hopes Thibodeau will be with the Bulls beyond his current contract.
"He doesn't talk about that stuff, but we need to get him an extension ASAP," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said Friday. "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."
Forman doesn't anticipate a problem hammering out the extension.
"Tom has done a great job with our team," Forman said. "The biggest thing is Tom wants to be here, he wants to be the coach of the Bulls, and we want Tom here to be the coach of the Bulls, so usually when the objective is the same for both sides it's going to hopefully be pretty easy to get something worked out."