- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Tuesday he is hopeful he can secure a contract extension before Wednesday's midnight deadline, but vice president of basketball operations John Paxson pointed out the team can match any offer Gibson would receive as a restricted free agent next summer.
And because Gibson is entering his fourth season with the Bulls, the Bird exception kicks in and teams won't be able to structure a deal with a so-called poison pill the way the Houston Rockets did to lure away Omer Asik.
"I don't know (if a deal will get done by Wednesday)," Paxson said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "(General manager Gar Forman) and (Gibson agent Mark Bartelstein) are still talking and trying to work it out and find some common ground. And you always hope so, we'd like to have Taj in the fold.
"But the reality is in our business there is restricted free agency, and Taj unlike Omer Asik is a Bird exception next year, so we have the right to match. A team can't come in and structure the deal like Houston did with Omer to make it difficult. The rules really hurt us in that case. I'm not really sure why that exception was in there. But we want Taj. We view Taj as a long-term piece for us. When you're negotiating things, as long as you've got time, you stay optimistic that something will get done."
Gibson did not talk to the media after practice on Wednesday morning as the deadline neared, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau praised Gibson for staying focused.
"He's handled it well," Thibodeau said on Wednesday. "He's just focused on playing. That's the business side. His agent will take care of that for him. He's done a good job in practice and getting ready."
On Tuesday, Gibson tried to remain optimistic that a deal would get done.
"I have to wait and see," he said. "There's been good talks, hopefully we can get something done."
Gibson joked that he had turned his phone off and was trying not to pay attention to all of the noise around him, but Bartelstein has been showing up at his house early in the morning to go over possibilities.
"The majority of my time my agent just pops up at my house at like six in the morning with McDonald's and is like, 'Here we go, we got to go over this,' " Gibson said. "And I'm like (rolls eyes) ... every morning it's something new. But it's a blessing to be in this position. Not many people can say they have a chance to get an extension from a great team like the Chicago Bulls. I'm just taking it in stride, but it's not fun at times."
Gibson, who is believed to be asking for between $8 million to $10 million, has said he wants to retire as a Bull. The Bulls' front office has consistently praised Gibson as someone whom they want to be in Chicago for the long term.
"I've stressed that many times that I want to be here," he said. "But there's only so much I can really do, besides take care of things on the basketball court. I have to let my agent and Gar Forman handle the rest of the business, but for right now I'm just focused on the Sacramento Kings (who open the season Wednesday at United Center) and playing basketball."
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