Paxson: Relationship with Thibs 'very good'

Gregg Popovich likely is Tom Thibodeau's biggest competition for the Coach of the Year award. Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire

John Paxson said his relationship with his Chicago Bulls coach is “very good” after reports claimed Thibodeau is not happy with his contract situation.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported March 30 that associates of Thibodeau insist the coach is dismayed because he hasn't been offered a lucrative extension. Thibodeau signed a modest two-year deal with the Bulls before the 2010-11 season and the team holds an option for the 2012-13 season.

“[General manager] Gar’s [Forman] relationship with Tom, my relationship with Tom is very good,” Paxson, the Bulls executive vice president said Tuesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “We want him here. He wants to be here. And as Gar said last last week, when you have the same goals it gets worked out. We need to get through this year. Hopefully we get healthy and have a good long playoff run and then we go to that issue.”

Forman said last week that the Bulls initiated contract extension talks with Thibodeau’s camp before the season but tabled them until after the season.

Thibodeau has led the Bulls to a 105-34 record in his one-plus seasons and reached 100 victories faster than any coach in history earlier this season.

“Tom is as detail-oriented and prepared as any coach I’ve ever been around,” Paxson said. “He really doesn’t miss anything in terms of what he wants. I have great respect for coaches who do demand that you play a certain way and don’t sugarcoat it when you don’t. I think Tom does a good job of holding guys responsible on the floor. But I think everyone that watches us play over the last two years, you hear that we consistently play hard, especially on the defensive end, and those are things to be proud of.

“When Scott Skiles was here he changed the culture a little bit. He provided some strong effort and our guys played hard. Tom provides the same kind of thing. I just feel he has done such a good job, and we obviously respect what he’s doing for us.”

Thibodeau won the NBA Coach of the Year last season after leading the Bulls to an NBA-best 62-20 record and the top seed. No coach has won the award two years in a row, but Thibodeau has made a solid case for history this season. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose has missed 22 games (and counting), Richard Hamilton has played just 19 games during an already challenging lockout-shortened season, but the Bulls still have the NBA’s best record and lead the East by 2 games over the Miami Heat.

“I’m sure there’s not going to be a huge sentiment to give a guy the award back to back and there are other great coaches," Paxson said. "You look at what Gregg Popovich has done down in San Antonio with his team so there’s always good coaches. But when you see everyday how Tom approaches it and what he’s done with … let’s face it we’ve only had two work stoppages that have shortened a season, you come off that and then your MVP of the prior year misses 20 games or more in a 66-game schedule.

"I’m not sure how many coaches would have done as well as Tom has done. I’d like to say none. We obviously think he has done a great job. Whoever votes for it I’m sure they’ll have their reasons for not voting for him but we certainly think he is.”