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updated: 5/24/2013 3:31 PM

For now, Gibson remains Boozer's backup

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  • Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) has improved his shooting touch every year, but Mike McGraw says Gibson needs to improve his demeanor with officials on the court.

      Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) has improved his shooting touch every year, but Mike McGraw says Gibson needs to improve his demeanor with officials on the court.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Sixth in a series

It's difficult to assess Taj Gibson's future with the Chicago Bulls without including dollars and cents.

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Last summer, the Bulls passed on matching Omer Asik's three-year, $25 million offer sheet from Houston. A few months later, they signed Gibson to an extension worth $33 million over four seasons.

Of course, Gibson's new deal didn't include a luxury tax grabbing $15 million in the third year, as Asik's offer sheet did. So calling the two contracts essentially even in yearly salary is not accurate.

But the question still remains -- did the Bulls keep the right player?

That's a difficult one to answer now, because Gibson was basically re-signed to be Carlos Boozer's replacement in another year or so. How well Gibson will do in that role is tough to pin down.

Even with all the injuries that struck the Bulls this season, Gibson started just five games. In those, he averaged an impressive 16.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the field.

Overall, last season, he averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, while averaging 22.4 minutes. At the end of the year, he missed 17 games with a twice-sprained left knee and wasn't 100 percent during the playoffs (6.3 points, 3.0 rebounds).

Gibson, who turns 28 in June, started 70 games as a rookie, filling in after Tyrus Thomas broke his arm. In the last three seasons, Gibson started just 24 games and he figures to spend at least one more year backing up Boozer.

So did the Bulls make the right call in extending Gibson? They may have overpaid slightly, but as Asik's experience showed, sometimes it's smart to avoid the risk of a player hitting free agency, restricted or not.

Gibson's talents are obvious when he's on the court. He joins Joakim Noah to give the Bulls a second big man who can block shots and effectively switch onto smaller players. During the Miami series, coach Tom Thibodeau often had Gibson guard Ray Allen so the Bulls could keep two big men on the floor.

Offensively, Gibson has shown flashes of successful post moves, and his outside jumper becomes more accurate with increased attempts.

One thing Gibson needs to work on -- and he admits it -- is referee relations. He complains too much and many referees appear to have a short fuse with him, as evidenced by his quick technical and ensuing ejection in Game 2 of the Miami series.

Overall, Gibson's extension seems to be a smart gamble. But until he becomes their full-time starter at power forward, the answer will be unclear.

Next man up: Marco Belinelli

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