Thibodeau says he’s “fine” with contract situation as report states … well, that he’s not

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It’s easy to get lost in the recent past.

The Bulls are a monstrously successful organization. They’ve won six championships in team history, all in the past 21 years, and have consistently made the playoffs. They’re an ATM machine for their owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owns the White Sox, an equally successful venture. They have Derrick Rose, they signed Carlos Boozer, they extended Joakim Noah and Rose. By all accounts they are a team that pays to play and isn’t gunshy about spending for excellence.

Funny story.

Not really the case historically. Reinsdorf is the anti-Dan-Snyder in a lot of ways. He’s reluctant to throw money out there, is inexplicably patient and careful with his spending, and yet consistently manages to win. But dating all the way back to Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan, the most successful coach and player this side of Auerbach’s Russell Celtics, Reinsdorf has unnecessarily drug out negotiations for extensions. The truth of the matter is that Reinsdorf managed to get Jordan for well below market value in a drastically different era of the CBA because, well, to be frank, the man is tighter than a diamond.

And we’re seeing that same trend carry through. He threw  the max extension at MVP Derrick Rose. But reigning Coach of the Year, probable repeat-winner Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau who has made the Bulls into some sort of giant-mawed, carnivorous demon that devours everything in its path? Yeah, he can’t get the dough for his future. And ESPN reports that he’s not so much OK with that.

Thibodeau associates privately insist that the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year is dismayed that he hasn’t been offered a more lucrative extension after signing a modest two-year contract with a team option when he joined the Bulls. Sources close to the situation say, furthermore, that his displeasure with the situation is an open secret in team circles. Although the uncertainty about his future hasn’t had any discernible impact on Thibodeau’s famed game-night intensity, it’s a development that has to be monitored.

Extending Thibodeau sooner rather than later would figure to be a smart move from Reinsdorf, since the coach’s value presumably can only spike if Chicago overcomes its injury woes to win a championship this season. But Bulls historians would note that Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles likewise had to battle Reinsdorf before extracting a representative salary from the boss.

via Weekend Dime — latest word on big NBA coaching decisions – ESPN.

Thibodeau, loathe to ever let a distraction brew a month out of the playoffs with his team humming like a finely tuned engine even without Derrick Rose, still out with an injury, spoke with ESPN Chicago and tried to straighten things:

“I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Thibodeau said. “I’m not worried about any of that stuff. I’m under contract. I’m fine with everything here.”

Without going into specifics, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told The Tribune last month that he expects Thibodeau to remain with the team for years to come.

“We certainly hope and expect that Tom will be with the Bulls well beyond his current contract,” Reinsdorf told the Tribune via e-mail.

It’s a stance Reinsdorf re-affirmed to ESPNChicago.com columnist Melissa Isaacson on Friday afternoon.

via Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ‘fine’ with contract situation – ESPN Chicago.

You can see both sides here.

On one hand, pay the man. He won the most games in the league last year, he’ll likely win the most games in the league this year. He’s pieced together the best defense with a first-and-second-year Turkish guy who looks like Judge Reinhold, Carlos Boozer’s painted-on defense, and Kyle Korver. He’s put Derrick Rose in a position to win MVP. He’s managed lineups, timeouts, made adjustments, and survived significant injuries over the past two seasons to Joakim Noah, Boozer, Rose, and Rip Hamilton. He’s worth every penny. His voice makes Tom Waits sounds like honeybutter and he’s so animated on the sideline he’ a .GIF machine. He’s the coach every team’s fans in this league wants outside of San Antonio. There’s nothing short of a title, well-within reach this year, that he can do more.

Pay the man.

But you know what? Reinsdorf if getting great value everywhere he turns. He has the best team in the league, record-wise, and he’s still not in the luxury tax? He might be able to get the cost of Thibodeau down. Fifteen years ago he scoffed at the value Phil Jackson wanted to return to the Bulls, a meager sum in today’s game. But he did pay him, did get him back in. He’ll get Thibodeau back, this is just about saving a few dollars, which Reinsdorf, ever the businesman, is always looking to do. Even the son and chairman, Michael, is following his father’s approach. You have to admire it, even if it seems insane.

Thibodeau’s not going anywhere. There’s not a better job. He’s set to contend with Rose for 12 more years. Over a decade. He has the support of a major market team and plays in a nice building. This is just an unnecessary drama being played out over some money. It may be unnecessary, but it’s the way the Bulls do business.

DeMarcus Cousins thinks refs are giving him techs off reputation alone

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New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins is a fiery personality on the court, often arguing foul calls at length despite no official in NBA history reversing a call directly after player complaint.

Crafty veterans — your LeBron Jameses and your Chris Pauls — slowly and pointedly chatter with officials as a means to influence their subconscious leaning on calls (and to protect them against earning techs when they do decide to straight up yell at refs).

Cousins hasn’t used that kind of angling to success in his career, instead going hard at referees with some consistency. Cousins has tried to change that approach this season, but instead has found that his prior actions have earned him a reputation the Pelicans forward believes doesn’t befit his actions in 2017-18.

Speaking to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Cousins said that despite letting more calls go and changing his candor, NBA refs are not responding proportionately.

Via The Undefeated:

I am going out of my way. I am going over and beyond,” Cousins said. “I am coming in saying, ‘We can’t do this, this and this …’ Even calls I know I should be arguing, I’m letting go. And they’re still like … it’s a one-sided thing. Everything is changing from one end. But with them, it’s like, ‘We are not letting go of the past. You are who you are. You’re getting a tech.’

“So, when it comes to me getting a tech for saying, ‘Good call, referee …,’ vets and coaches tell me to butter them up. Switch it up a little bit. Do a little reverse psychology. Tell them it’s a good call. And you still getting a tech for it? They’re not trying to make it work. They’re stuck in their ways, and it is so obvious.”

Cousins added that he believes foes are taking advantage of his troubles.

“Now it’s to the point where teams are saying, ‘Yeah, just go over there and beat the s— out of him.’ I don’t get calls, and I’m not protected like other players are,” he said.

It’s interesting to see that Cousins has at least tried to change things up, and indeed acknowledges that he should be trying to work with the officials rather than antagonize them.

Still, we’re not sure what the tone of his “good call” comments are toward the refs. Are they sarcastic? Or are they contrite? You can see how one might earn Cousins a tech from an official — who seem to be particularly sensitive this season — and the other might endear you to them.

James Harden is playing with a bruised right knee

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James Harden, Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets are on a 13-game winning streak. They have a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. But it’s not all rosy in Space City.

Harden suffered a bruised right knee against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and almost had to sit out the Rockets’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after the win over the Bucks, Harden said that he was in some pain but a doctor told him he would be able to play and that he would not make the condition worse.

Via ESPN:

“I wasn’t feeling well at all, but the doc came in and just told me that there’s going to be pain for a bit, but you can play through it,” Harden said. “It can’t get worse, but it’s going to be pretty painful until obviously you give it some time. Once he said that, I was like, ‘Let’s go.'”

“I wasn’t moving like I usually move, but we won,” said Harden.

If Harden wasn’t feeling well, it sure didn’t show. He had 31 points, although on 8-of-21 shooting against Milwaukee. Chris Paul chipped in with 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

It doesn’t sound like Harden will be missing a game any time soon, which is par for the course for him. He’s played in a minimum of 89 percent of his team’s regular season games since entering the league in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are blasting their way into 2018. They play the Warriors next on January 4.

Nuggets say Paul Millsap won’t return until after All-Star break

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The Western Conference has been a blast this season, with the Houston Rockets playing strong after the arrival of Chris Paul. The team has 13 straight wins, and a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors.

That’s just part of the results of the West getting a boatload of stars sent its way over the summer. One team is lacking their new addition, however, and his absence has been a quiet disappointment. The Denver Nuggets still sit in sixth place out West, but new forward Paul Millsap has been sidelined with a wrist injury.

The original timeline for Millsap said he would be out for three months, which would put him back around the beginning of March. That plan was confirmed by Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, who said that he expects Millsap will be out until at least the All-Star break, which starts on February 16.

Malone also seemed to indicate it’s possible Millsap is out longer than that.

Via Twitter:

At least Millsap is on schedule? It’s hard to tell inflection from text, but let’s just hope Malone’s “at the earliest” isn’t an indicator of slow recovery on Millsap’s part. The Nuggets certainly don’t need to rush Millsap back. They have a 16-13 record and instill more confidence than most the teams floundering below them in the standings.

LeBron James on talk with Lonzo Ball: “Some things could be held private”

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LeBron James was caught on a hot mic this week speaking with Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. The conversation came after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Lakers in Ohio, 121-112.

In their talk, LeBron told Ball that he needed to stay in his zone and be aggressive. Pretty generic stuff, to be honest.

Meanwhile, LeBron was asked about whether he thought having microphones record those types of conversations between players was good for the league. He was less than enthused.

Via Cleveland.com (response is at 0:50 in the video above):

Some things could be held private. Like my conversation with Lonzo. Everything doesn’t need to be said. Should be some type of privacy. I’m OK with it.

It does raise an interesting question in terms of player privacy and separation between media, fans, and players. On one hand, you could see how what they say on the floor, in a public arena meant for spectators, could be deemed public and therefore fair game.

But it’s also common for media not to publish — or for TV not to broadcast — the things players say during the game. We don’t hear trash talking, even if we see it, and if you’ve ever sat near the floor at an NBA game you hear a lot more colorful language than you do watching the game on TV.

However you come down player privacy on the court, it doesn’t seem like LeBron needed to speak with Ball in front of media like that. He could have spoken to him in the tunnels below the Q, or got his phone number and texted him. He could have sent him a DM on Twitter and it would have been more private.

It feels like there was a performative aspect to this, like LeBron wanted to create a mystery around his conversation with Lonzo but it got turned on its head. It’s just too bad what was said between them wasn’t actually that interesting.