Sixth in a series
Itís difficult to assess Taj Gibsonís future with the Chicago Bulls without including dollars and cents.
Last summer, the Bulls passed on matching Omer Asikís 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, Gibsonís new deal didnít include a luxury tax grabbing $15 million in the third year, as Asikís offer sheet did. So calling the two contracts essentially even in yearly salary is not accurate.
But the question still remains ó did the Bulls keep the right player?
Thatís a difficult one to answer now, because Gibson was basically re-signed to be Carlos Boozerís 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 wasnít 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 Asikís experience showed, sometimes itís smart to avoid the risk of a player hitting free agency, restricted or not.
Gibsonís talents are obvious when heís 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 ó and he admits it ó 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, Gibsonís 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 BelinelliCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.