An ESPN.com report quoted Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as being "dismayed" about the lack of progress in reaching a new contract extension. While it may be new to you, this isn't news.
After winning the NBA's Coach of the Year award in his first season as an NBA head coach, it's only natural Thibodeau would want to be rewarded for his service. However, Thibodeau is currently in the second year of his contract and the Bulls have the option to bring him back for a third year, something that's universally expected to occur.
"I don't know where that's coming from and I'm not worried about any of that stuff," Thibodeau said after Friday's win over the Pistons. "I'm under contract and I'm fine with everything here."
What else would you expect him to say? Let's be logical, folks: Thibodeau is known as one of the most focus and intense people in the business, so at this late juncture in the season--or even earlier in the campaign, when a New York media outlet first reported his frustration about his contract situation--do you think he would strategically leak his concerns, taking away from the Bulls' goal of winning a title?
Highly unlikely. Sure, Thibodeau is probably disappointed that the Bulls haven't already addressed the issue, as well as the fact that he's one of the league's lowest-paid head coaches, but knowing the potential of this team and being a student of the game, on and off the court--specifically the Bulls' track record of dealing with coaches' contracts as an organization, with Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles as two examples--he surely can't be surprised at the process.
He's also very likely aware that the grass isn't greener elsewhere. Looking around the league at possible upcoming vacancies, New York comes to mind with Mike D'Antoni starting the season as a lame-duck head coach and Mike Woodson as an interim coach--albeit a successful one, thus far--and with Thibodeau's history as a Knicks assistant, it would seem like just the opportunity to lure him away.
But even if the Knicks were interested, Thibodeau knows that he's already put his stamp on this Bulls team, he won't ever find a more coachable superstar than Derrick Rose, he wouldn't find a more ideal supporting cast and even taking into consideration the amount of talent on New York's roster, the relentless competitor would actually be taking a step back in his quest for a championship. Does that sound like a move the ever-calculating tactician would make?
Don't fret, Bulls fans: Thibodeau's contract situation will be resolved in due time. Even if they appear to be dragging their feet in doing so--and like any fiscally-sound operation, they're being prudent in waiting to pay him the big bucks, to Thibodeau's consternation, at least for the time being--the Bulls' braintrust understands there's not really an upgrade from Thibodeau available on the market, as long as Phil Jackson stays retired (and the triangle offense isn't exactly a perfect fit for Derrick Rose's skill set) and not to mention, they wouldn't want to chance of alienating their players.
"Of course--I'm not going to give you guys the answer I'm supposed to say--but not just for me, but for this organization and what he's done, and if we don't bring him back, somebody's going to take him. He's that good," said Luol Deng, who has developed into an All-Star under Thibodeau and along with Rose, has probably benefited the most from his tutelage. "I didn't even know there's a situation. He's not the type of guy who's going to talk to us about it. We're not the type of team that's going to talk about it. I think we all want to see him stay here for many years to come, but that's not up to me."
Deng will likely get his--and Bulls' fans--wish, but thinking about far-fetched scenarios, like arguably the league's top coach simply walking away due to lack of interest, makes for good headlines in the meantime. It hasn't been a perfect world under Thibodeau's reign, as his laser-like focus can rankle people to a degree, but nobody questions his work ethic, intent and most importantly, results, all of which make the likelihood of the Bulls not bringing him back and even after 20 years as an assistant before getting a shot, perceived anger and impatience at the slowness in getting his first extension as a head coach, a tad overblown.