File this away under the category of inside information sure to be wrong, but my sources have told me Thibs and the Bulls were 10 million apart in terms of their contract extension talks when they last finished. Per Nick Friedell, talks between Reinsdorf and Thibodeau have resumed.
First and foremost, in Friedell's article, he explicitly states talks are between Reinsdorf and Thibodeau not Gar Forman and Thibodeau's agent which isn't surprising given the Bulls history of coaching negotiations.
chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and coach Tom Thibodeau have resumed negotiations about a contract extension for Thibodeau, according to a source familiar with the situation.
By using a few data points from the press combined with what I've heard, my belief is that the Bulls are asking Thibodeau to sign for a deal of roughly 4 years 15/16 million while Thibodeau is looking for something in the range of 5 years 25/26 million meaning the majority of the gap is in the guaranteed fifth year.
K.C. Johnson noted on my podcast in July that the Bulls were squeamish about the number of guaranteed years due to the way the Scott Skiles situation ended.
The Bulls are in a tricky situation here though, if Thibs makes it to coaching free agency next year, his price will likely explode. If I'm the Lakers, Knicks, or Nets, then I'm taking my infinite budget and overpaying Thibodeau where the money won't count against the obscenely expensive tax anyway rather than overpaying some role player. These are franchises that will literally end up paying something around 10-15 million a year for guys in the 7th-8th man slot after luxury tax, they aren't going to flinch at offering Thibs 30 million total if they want him.
That said, this is also a great test case for Thibs as well. Not to see if he can coach, we know he can coach, but to see if he'll make the team hate him when it's not on the path to win the most games in the league. I don't believe Thibs is nearly so much a taskmaster as others, but if he's going to wear on a team, this would be a good year to see it when they're expected to win closer to 40 games than 60 and the payoff of wins isn't coming every night.
My guess is that something gets done before the season, and it gets done because the Bulls fold. There's no reason for Thibodeau to budge. He's got way more money waiting for him down the line if the Bulls don't pay up. However, the Bulls aren't going to find a better coach than Thibs and certainly not one willing to sign on for cheap. The message it sends to the players if they let Thibs go, in particular Rose, would also be terrible, and spending on a coach won't kill them with the tax whereas spending on cast will.
If my guesstimation of Thibs demands is fairly accurate, it simply makes more sense for the Bulls to take the best deal they can negotiate. However, if history is any guide everyone will have a bad taste in their mouth before this thing is over. The Bulls policy of negotiating directly with coaches instead of the agents while trying to talk down the numbers more or less guarantees this.
I think something will get done before the season starts. I look for something in the 20-22 million dollar range to get agreed to.