Most reporters already had the story written: The Bulls and Taj Gibson failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension and restricted free agency was in his future.
But after the Bulls beat Sacramento 93-87 on Wednesday at the United Center, Gibson walked to his locker and made a surprise announcement: After the game ended, he agreed to a four-year deal worth a possible $38 million with incentives.
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"I'm finally happy to get the elephant off my back right now," Gibson said, as teammates offered boisterous congratulations. "I looked at the numbers, that's a lot of money. I can't really turn down that much money. Especially for the security, you never know what can happen."
Gibson said that when he finished icing in the locker room, general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson were waiting for him with one last sales pitch. Gibson said the numbers didn't change from earlier in the day.
"Having Gar and Pax come in there and say they want me here for a long time, I kind of had tears in my eyes, because I said I want to be here a long time," Gibson said. "I want to retire here."
According to Gibson, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, recommended staying put if this is where he's happy.
"Most of the time, it's people that don't understand the game," Gibson said. "They're constantly in your face, 'You could get more. You should do this. You should do that.' It's more about if you're happy or not. You do want to see what else is out there, but you don't want to be in a hellhole somewhere, chasing the bucks. This is a great team here."
Complicating matters is the fact that the Bulls are above the luxury tax and don't have any big contracts coming off the books after this season. There has been speculation the Bulls might use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer if they succeed in re-signing Gibson.
Old friends and new rivals:
As a former Boston Celtics assistant, Tom Thibodeau enjoyed watching Tuesday's unfriendly rivalry unfold between Boston and Miami.
"I love competition," Thibodeau said. "Fierce competitors, to me, I'll watch those games all day. When you get two quality opponents going at each other, there's nothing better than that. Whether it's low-scoring, high-scoring, medium scoring -- you love to see fierce competitors."
Thibodeau was asked about Kevin Garnett's pregame snub of ex-Celtics teammate Ray Allen.
"Interesting. Not surprising," Thibodeau said. "Those guys have a long history. They won a championship together. They've known each other from high school. I'm sure they'll work things out."
For the record, Thibodeau said he plans to shake hands with ex-Bulls like Omer Asik and Kyle Korver.
"If they played here, I'll shake their hand," he said with a laugh.
Another title for Pippen:
The Bulls gave Scottie Pippen a new title on Wednesday -- senior adviser to president and COO Michael Reinsdorf.
No job description was provided in the news release. Pippen was previously known as a team ambassador.
"Scottie's talents and unique experience allow him to add value to so many aspects of our organization, and we wanted his title to better reflect his role with the Bulls," Reinsdorf said in a statement.