The Bulls are losing another key member of their bench next season, but the good news is this member won’t be leaving the team. According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Taj Gibson has been told by the Bulls coaching staff to start preparing for his role as a starter next season.
“I mean this will be exciting,’’ Gibson told the Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley. “This is what I’ve always thought about. When I started [those six games] for Boozer when he was hurt during the season, I just know how excited I was, how good it felt to come to the arena.’’
Now, this isn’t exactly a huge surprise, as Bulls fans have been anticipating this move for a while. Even though Gibson came off the bench last year, he was the one playing the important minutes in the fourth quarter while Carlos Boozer sat on the bench. And deservedly so, because Gibson averaged a career high of 13 points as well as 6.8 rebounds per game. – and he did it while playing less than 30 minutes a night.
Compare those numbers to the 13.7 and 8.3 Carlos Boozer put up, then factor in how much better a defender Gibson was. Not to mention, he’s a lot cheaper, as well.
So, when Gibson’s minutes go up next season, his numbers will likely follow. He averaged 20.7 points and 9.6 rebounds when he started for Boozer last year, after all.
Of course, the real question here is what this means for Carlos Boozer. The Bulls have never come out and said they were going to amnesty him, we’ve all just kind of assumed it since we have eyes, brains and the ability to sync the two together. The news that Gibson is being moved to the starting lineup certainly makes it likely that the Boozer amnesty will happen, though I don’t think the Bulls will stop exploring every possible trade avenue for Boozer first.
(Though maybe if Jerry Reinsdorf is too busy trying to figure out who the next commissioner of baseball should be, the Bulls can sneak an amnesty by him.)
Also, it’s important to remember that while Taj has been told he’ll be a starter next year, there’s no guarantee he’ll be starting in a Bulls uniform. With the Bulls getting ready to pursue Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love, there’s a good chance Gibson could be involved in any sign-and-trade to land one of them.
For now, though, we can all sit back and enjoy this news just because it greatly increases the odds that Boozer won’t be with the Bulls next season.
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