The Bulls have until Wednesday to sign Gordon and Deng to contract extensions. If not, they will be restricted FAs the following summer.
I've wavered off of my "just sign them already, you paid Nocioni for chrissakes" stance the past few weeks. There really is no rush to sign either player unless it's for a discount, and that's apparently what Pax has been trying to achieve. If each wind up having fantastic seasons and cost the Bulls more money (and an additional year) in restricted free agency, that's a good problem to have, especially considering a bidding war is far from guaranteed given the paucity of teams that will be under the cap next offseason. I don't fear that the lack of a contract will be distracting (let alone insulting) for either player.
So Pax is using 'security' as leverage to have them take a deal now, but another motivation may now be this Kobe Bryant business.
If Deng or Gordon sign an extension before Wednesday, it effectively puts them out of any Kobe trade package, and therefore likely puts the Bulls out of the running. Whether or not the discussion is "hot and heavy" (quick comment on that: I, as a rule, rarely believe Chris Sheridan), by all accounts Paxson is at least somewhat interested in acquiring Kobe, and knows that any extensions may kill the possibility. So from his standpoint the team better be making a heck of a deal with Deng&Gordon to get an extension signed now. Otherwise it makes little sense for the team not to just wait, let their players raise their value, let the Lakers asking price diminish, and resume talks midseason or even next summer. Or never.