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Taj Gibson still hopeful about contract extension

Kirk Hinrich practiced without any setbacks his injured right grois expected start Wednesday against Kings. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Kirk Hinrich practiced without any setbacks to his injured right groin and is expected to start Wednesday against the Kings. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 1, 2012 4:53PM



Power forward Taj Gibson still was hoping he and the Bulls would be able to hammer out a contract extension before the deadline Wednesday for a player entering his fourth season.

But there is growing speculation the Bulls might let the deadline pass and take their chances with matching an offer for Gibson when he can become a restricted free agent after the season.

‘‘They’ve been good talks, and hopefully [we can] get something done so I can just focus on basketball,’’ Gibson said of the ongoing negotiations between Bulls general manager Gar Forman and agent Mark Bartelstein. ‘‘More people are focused on it than me, really. I’ve got great coaches [and] great teammates that have me focused on the right things. I don’t even think about it, to tell you the truth. I just shut my phone off, go home and focus on the games ahead. It’s going to be a big year. Just focus on the Sacramento Kings [in the opener].’’

Gibson admitted that it hasn’t been easy, though.

‘‘[Bartelstein] just rings the doorbell, [and] my dogs are barking at him,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘He comes in, pets them [and says], ‘Where’s Taj?’ He comes in the room [and says], ‘Wake up, wake up, get up!’ It’s like 7 in the morning, and I’m like, ‘Mark, I don’t want to talk about it today.’ Every other day I’m telling him that I don’t want to talk about it. If it’s not done, don’t call me about it.

‘‘But he’s been great, Gar has been great and we’re trying to get this thing done.’’

Hinrich ready to go

Coach Tom Thibodeau said point guard Kirk Hinrich went through a second consecutive practice with no setbacks to his injured right groin and will start the opener against the Kings, barring something unforeseen.

Hinrich will start with Rip Hamilton in the backcourt, with Luol Deng at small forward, Carlos Boozer at power forward and Joakim Noah at center.

Blame the Butler

The Bulls announced they exercised their third-year option on guard/forward Jimmy Butler a year before they had to.

‘‘I think they just see how hard I work and how much I want to stay here,’’ Butler said.



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