Thibodeau upset about contract? Doubt it

Thibodeau upset about contract?  Doubt it

Mark Stein first reported yesterday that Tom Thibodeau was quietly grousing about the fact the Bulls hadn't offered him an extension. Thibodeau publicly denied the story after the Bulls beat the Pistons last night. Thibodeau deserves a raise. I know it, you know it, he knows it, and the Bulls know it.

I can't believe this is an issue though. Let's look at the facts.

1: I can't think of a single coach in my life who was extended after one season while still having two full seasons left on his contract.

2: While I know it's happened, I can't remember the last time I saw a coach extended mid season. It's certainly very rare and likely more rare when the coach has full season remaining on his contract.

3: This season is compressed. There are fewer times to sit down and talk because they're constantly on the go.

Little upside to do an extension now

Tom Thibodeau's price isn't going up unless the Bulls win a title, and even then, it's not going up much. He already has to be viewed as one of the top coaches in the NBA, and I'd go as far to say the top coach. Thibodeau's already earned an extension in the 6-12 million per season range, especially when you factor in the Knicks and Lakers could jack up the bidding.

Only an unexpected first round or second round exit could lower his price tag, but I guarantee no one on the Bulls is expecting that with their lack of negotiating.

If the Bulls don't want to significantly overpay him by making an offer they know he'll leap at, then starting negotiations now becomes a big distraction at a bad time. Say they offer him something reasonable like six million a year. Leon Rose will come back and demand 10, and now despite the sides likely meeting somewhere reasonable eventually everyone has a bad taste in their mouth at the most critical point of the year.

If negotiations can't be brought to an end quickly [and they likely won't be given Leon Rose's involvement], then both sides likely agree to put off the extension until after the season is over but feel a bit more bitter for going through the effort now.

If Thibodeau gets an extension now it's not going to improve their situation any in terms of winning this year. It just leaves them where they persently are.

The thing is, both sides have to realize the sense of this. Everyone knows Thibodeau will get paid, and everyone knows it happens this summer. There's no rush to do something now, nor should there be.


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  • I think you make some great points about why it's not a big deal, and I mostly agree. Although I think the main reason people are a bit concerned, including myself, is that this is the Bulls we're talking about. Reinsdorf went through a similar thing with Skiles, and the Bulls have historically went on the cheap when looking for coaches (I mean seriously, how did Vinny Del Negro end up coaching the Chicago Bulls?). Even Thibs took less money to coach here than he would've gotten in New Orleans. So I think when this story is discussed, it needs to be done in that context.

    Now, do I think they'll get something done? Yeah, they kinda have to. It would be something of a disaster in terms of fan perception if Thibs somehow ended up coaching in a place like New York, or LA.

    The interesting thing will be to see just how far Thibs wan'ts to take this. Because despite what happens in the playoffs, he'll have all the leverage in the World, and if he really is all about the money, then this could get very dicey.

  • I wondered where this came from when some caller brought it up on Bulls postgame, so at least you explained that.

    However, given that the Bulls took care of Noah and Rose, I'm sure they are not going to go all Jerry/Phil/Pink with Thibs.

    He seems more concerned with "we turned it over too much, but the D was good," anyway.

  • You brought up alot of reasons why he shouldn't be upset and why they don't need to negotiate right now but none of what you wrote disproves what stein wrote. Not everything happens in a way that seem logical. Actually illogical things happen all the time. I also don't see how displeasure in his contract negotiations would somehow visibly show in his coaching. If anything it would cause him to focus even harder to prove his worth if he is in fact unhappy or feels disrespected.

    I have no clue whats going on nor do I care much as contract negotiations are all about bluster anyways. I will care alot however if for some reason he is not coaching this team down the road due to monetary reasons or frustration with management.

  • 1. It is not like Thibs is going to get hurt while playing and his value will go down. The only worry would be his "voice" would deteriorate with over-use.
    2. Lakers are not paying 10 mil for Thibs when they are sending Odom for scrap to save money.
    3. Knicks are the biggest competition if Reinsdorf just picks up the option for next year and makes Thibs a lame-duck coach next year. Knicks might give Woodson one more year and then jump for Thibs. That said, Reinsdorf will probably pay Thibs about 7-8 mil if the Bulls make the ECF and lose in 6 games or he will hard-ball.
    4. There might be some truth to Stein's report. Thibs might be scolding Noah whenever he(Noah) doesn't listen to Thibs and making fun that Noah's longer contract still means he(Thibs) is the boss.
    5. Finally, it is ESPN rumors. Even a fan comment/imagination becomes fodder for articles at ESPN.

  • i was a little surprised but not shocked when i heard about this last night, as contracts in chicago are always a bone of contention. i also agree that with the season being so compressed, a new deal for thibs isn't something that management is focused on. on the other hand, if you're garpax, what's to stop you from calling thib's agent and start the conversation so that when the actual sit-down takes place it's a mere formality.

  • Meh. If the Bulls win it all, offer him the average of Pop, Carlisle, and Doc. If they don't, he gets the average of Karl, Adelman, and Collins.

  • I agree it's probably all just a media beat up.

    Thibs contract will be interesting though. Paying the coach is the true "pay for a winner test" IMO since there's no salary cap or roster flexibility consequences of paying as much as it takes. If JR is serious about paying for a winner he should have no qualms about locking up the best coach in the league to the biggest contract.

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