Oh, right, the two best players on the team aren't signed to extensions yet. With a month to go:
Paxson's stance is that the team should get a salary discount on any extension agreed to now, given that the Bulls are offering long-term security for the players a year earlier than necessary.
''If we sign these guys to an extension, and this season they go out and have some catastrophic injury, they're still getting the money,'' Paxson said. ''I try to make it sound logical, but I don't know if it comes across that way. It's an extension; we feel like it's the one time in a contract negotiation that, for the security that they're going to get, we should get something in return. That doesn't mean that we're not going to talk about a great contract, because we are. But what I've found and learned through Kirk's deal last year is that we still have a month, which is a long time. When that deadline starts approaching, maybe something gets done. It's very easy for fans to sit back, even players, and say, 'Well, they should just do this.' I was a player. But I have great appreciation for this now being in this chair that it's a business.''
Hey, that's what I've been saying: they should just do this. Pax has rightfully labeled me as an impatient amateur, curse his handsome self.
If extensions aren't signed, I'm not as much concerned over the effect it'd have on each player, since I honestly don't think the players care that much who pays them. Any talk of being slighted or underappreciated will mean nothing if they just get the money from somebody, Pax or not. Their feelings won't be irreparably hurt if they don't get 'shown love' this season to where they wouldn't take an extension later.
But, dramatically more important, it'll have an effect on me, reading all season about Gordon and Deng's 'contract year' and each doing the Chauncey Billups "Gee it'd be nice to play in [insert opponent's team's city here]" bullshit. I don't think I can take it.
I said last month it seems like Deng's assured his place, while Gordon's is still iffy. But then you see a quote from Skiles' today singling out how great a summer Gordon had. I have to guess that all parties involved believe that the Bulls are committed to both players long-term, and thus will get extensions.
(Unless he's really not sure this core is enough, and wouldn't mind holding out on either and banking on a spectacular sign/trade deal next offseason. But that's far riskier proposition than a Chris Kaman scenario with these two. Even if Gordon and Deng get signed now and don't perform quite to the level they promise, they're both young enough to still be attractive trade assets.)
Pax downplays the problem of waiting, but why not save that future money? There's been preemptive hemming and/or hawing over the luxury tax already this offseason, and getting these deals done now (and therefore cheaper than next offseason) is the best way to manage your tax.
So I'll just take this Paxtalk as part of the wonderful world of contract negotiations. He's not going to say 'we can't lose these guys, no way'. Hurts the leverage. And apparently that means more to him than hurting my sanity. So here's to a month of back-and-forth through the media: crud.