It felt like a black cloud was hanging over media day on the way there. A series of questions on uncompleted extensions, underwhelming off-season moves, and Derrick Rose's ACL. The Bulls pulled a circus trick to turn a potential negative day into a veritable fun fair breaking the news of a four year extension for Tom Thibodeau.
The extension kicks in after this season, so Thibodeau will be paid through the end of the 2016/17 season. The extension has been reported to be worth 17.5 million with the possibility to grow to 20 million with incentives. The incentives apparently bridged the gap between the two sides.
This is great news for the Bulls players, management, Thibodeau, and the fans. It's a veritable win/win/win/win situation. The players won't have to deal with a lame duck coach, management locks in one of the elite coaches in the league, Thibodeau gets some serious coin, and there's no salary cap consequences to deal with like when a player gets a deal.
In all, it was a great way to kick off media day.
I asked one question to Gar Forman about the Bulls signing of Kirk Hinrich rather than using a sign and trade. Gar gave the expected answer that it takes three sides to want to do the deal.
I suspect it may be the case the Bulls felt they had Hinrich locked up at the MMLE when they traded Korver and wanted to keep the exception, but after the fact Hinrich got a much better offer from Milwuakee [as reported by Sam Smith] leaving the Bulls having to scramble to get more cash for him.
The rest of the players I talked with were high on the Thibodeau extension, confident they could play well without Rose and seemed excited to get the season started. Marcus Teague struck me as a quality guy. He was down to Earth, ready to accept his role, and seemed to understand how much work was in front of him.
Marco Belinelli noted that while he's known as a shooter, he feels he can be more than a shooter for this team. He was a bit bigger than I expected in person, and also was excited to come to a better team, a team that could compete for the title.
Jimmy Butler talked about improving his shooting this off-season. He said one of the biggest things was building his confidence, and he expects to shoot better this season. That said, he says his aim is to continue to take the ball to the hoop aggressively and quickly to find himself at the line for easy opportunities.
Nate Robinson looks prepared to liven up the locker room, I didn't get a chance to interview him, but he was clowning around at media day, stealing Jimmy Butler's placard and posing for pictures with a Jimmy Butler #21 sign [if we see some website with a picture of Nate Robinson posing as Jimmy Butler, you'll know why].
Kirk Hinrich seemed excited to be back with the Bulls and was as cheerful as I've seen him at media day. For that matter, the rest of the team seemed excited to have him back. Derrick Rose said Kirk Hinrich was the first player he ever recruited to come play for the Bulls. Baby steps on the recruiting thing.
While it seems kind of silly to think of Kirk Hinrich as the caliber of player Derrick would recruit, it says a lot about what kind of impact Kirk had on Derrick in such a short period of time. I know Hinrich played mentor to Rose, and Derrick talked about Kirk as one of those guys who you know is going to do whatever it takes to win.
For one day, it was great to get some real Bulls news back, and especially the big news, that an extension was done. Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago also reported that there's been positive movement on a Gibson extension which is promising news. The best part of all, the NBA is back, not all the way, not to the point of playing games, but the dead news cycle is gone, we're ready to go.