Commentary

Doc Rivers supports Tom Thibodeau

Updated: April 6, 2012, 3:05 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers added his voice to the chorus of those who have expressed some surprise that Chicago Bulls management has not yet come to terms with coach Tom Thibodeau on a contract extension.

"Yeah, they should; there's no doubt," Rivers said at United Center Thursday before the Celtics lost to the Bulls. "I think he's one of the top coaches in the league, and I think he's done the best job in the league the last two years."

Thibodeau, who was Rivers' assistant in Boston and had no head-coaching experience before taking the Bulls' job, signed a two-year contract before last season, with a team option for the 2012-13 season. He then guided the Bulls to the best regular-season record in the NBA and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals, for which he was named coach of the year.

He's a candidate to become the first ever to repeat as coach of the year. This season, the Bulls again have the league's best record, despite losing MVP Derrick Rose for 22 games to a variety of injuries.

It would seem like a slam dunk that the extension will happen, and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Gar Forman both have said they are extremely happy with the job Thibodeau has done and that an extension will get done eventually.

But ESPN.com's Marc Stein, as well as two other media outlets, reported that Thibodeau isn't happy he hasn't received a lucrative extension. Both Stein and the Chicago Tribune reported that Thibodeau's unhappiness is known by Bulls players.

After Stein's report on March 15, Thibodeau brushed aside any talk of displeasure and said he's "fine" with his status.

Forman said Tuesday that extension talks were initiated before the season, and that both sides agreed to table talks until afterward.

In the meantime, there are plenty of Thibodeau supporters, including Bulls players.

"I don't want to get into (the contract) because I don't know what Thibs wants me to say," Rivers said, "so I'm going to stop there, but yeah, I mean, clearly, yeah."

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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