Chicago Bulls' Coach Tom Thibodeau Should Get an Extension, Just Not Now

Ernest Shepard@@ernestshepardAnalyst IIIJuly 29, 2012

Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau must get a new contract but he has to prove that he can develop his players.
Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau must get a new contract but he has to prove that he can develop his players.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls’ Coach Tom Thibodeau is without question one of the best coaches in the NBA. If I were going to rank Thibodeau among the NBA coaches he would probably be behind only Greg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Somehow, with a career coaching record of 112-36, Thibodeau remains unsigned past this upcoming season.

And that is fine by me.

I agree with the overall consensus that Thibodeau should be signed to an extension, but now is not the time.

Not with injuries that will keep Derrick Rose out for much of the season. When you also consider the idea that Luol Deng may or may not need surgery on his wrist, this may turn into a long NBA season. A season that will test Thibodeau’s coaching skills.

Thibodeau is going to have to make better adjustments as he will not have his best player (Rose) to rely on.

He has to show that he can develop young talent.

Can Marquis Teague become a regular contributor in the Bulls’ lineup? With Thibodeau’s coaching he can. Thibodeau must also help Jimmy Butler develop into not only a good defensive player, but help improve Butler’s overall skills.

Butler’s improvement is paramount to any success that the Bulls will have next season. He cannot improve by not playing; Thibodeau must allow Butler to earn his trust by playing on the basketball court.


Another one of those adjustments will be putting his faith in the scoring abilities of Carlos Boozer.

With no disrespect to Deng or Joakim Noah, Boozer is the most important player that the Bulls will have healthy starting the season. It will be Thibodeau’s job to put Boozer in the best position to be successful.


Thibodeau as a head coach has an issue with trusting certain players. How much trust that he shows in Boozer could go a long way in determining where the Bulls finish in the Eastern Conference standings. Also, if he has not signed an extension by that point, it could dictate how much he is worth.

At the moment, Thibodeau’s worth is very difficult to forecast.

I believe that Thibodeau deserves a "top-five" NBA coach-type of salary.

The problem with that is the fact that coaching contracts appear to be on the decline in recent years. Popovich (Spurs), Rivers (Celtics) and Rick Adelman (Timberwolves) were the only three coaches to earn at least $5 million last season that lasted with their respective teams. In the 2010-11 season there was Phil Jackson (Lakers), Mike D’Antoni (Knicks), Larry Brown (Bobcats) and Don Nelson making more than $5 million along with Rivers.

No, Thibodeau will not get $5 million a season from the Bulls. He deserves a $5 million salary for what he has done with the Bulls. The fact that he has helped the Bulls become a contender two years ahead of schedule alone is worthy of such a contract.

Sadly, he will most likely get something close to the four-year, $16 million contract that Scott Brooks received from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Similar to what the Thunder did with Brooks is what the Bulls should do with Thibodeau. Not to lowball him but to help him state his case for more money.

Thibodeau has proven that he is one of the elite coaches in the NBA and deserves to get paid. Only he can determine how much with this season being by far his most difficult.

The Bulls should wait until later before they attempt to sign Thibodeau to an extension. That way they could allow Thibodeau to control his own fate or, in this case, his asking price. Thus giving Thibodeau leverage going into contract negotiations.

That is just how any one of us would want it to happen. We all want the chance to determine our own worth. Thibodeau is in rare company.