Taj Gibson probably didn't expect the Bulls' biggest addition this summer to be another power forward, but he's not sweating it.
Gibson spoke briefly to the media Wednesday during his youth basketball camp at the Joy of the Game Center in Deerfield. The sixth-year forward made it clear he's happy to see Pau Gasol join the Bulls.
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"I think it's a great addition to our team, gives us more depth," Gibson said. "I think that we'll have more size up front. One thing about our bigs, (coach Tom Thibodeau) can have so many different options. He can go small, he can go big, he can go quick. We have a lot of different lineups."
Besides Gasol, the Bulls will be adding rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, and hopefully a healthy Derrick Rose. Gibson compared this roster to the 2010-11 squad that won 62 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
"It's scary at times, when you think about the potential of the front line and the depth," he said. "Our young guy from overseas (Mirotic), he's going to be extremely good. We've got Joakim (Noah). We're not going to have to put so many minutes on him.
Derrick's been having a great summer. He sacrificed and stayed in Chicago all summer, to work on his game. He's working on his game every day. Every time I go in the gym, he's there, and I'm looking forward to him coming back strong."
Of course, there's also the free agent that got away. Gibson and Noah sat down with New York forward Carmelo Anthony during his July 1 visit to Chicago. About 12 days later, Anthony finally decided he would stay with the Knicks.
"When I was with Carmelo, we were just hanging out, really," Gibson said. "It's a mutual respect thing, being from New York. It's respecting our games, talking about so many different stories. We weren't really getting into the whole just coming here and do this, do that. We were just getting familiar with one another. … It just didn't go our way.
"It was all good talks, just talking about the future. But at the end of the day, he has to worry about his family and worry about how he fits in, and we understand that. Like Joakim told him, 'We want you here, and we want to win a championship.' But if it doesn't come down to us, we understand all those things. We don't have hard feelings. We respect your game, we respect your devotion and that's how it is."
Gibson has been the subject of trade rumors in recent days, involving Minnesota forward Kevin Love. What's unclear is whether the Bulls are seriously interested in acquiring Love or if the trade talk is overblown in an effort to inflate demand. Either way, Gibson knows there's no point in worrying about things he can't control.
"In the NBA, you never really know," he said. "Like I learned from the best, you've just got to focus on your game, continue to be open-minded, continue to get better and if anything happens, it happens. But Chicago's my home. I look forward to playing in Chicago, hopefully for a long time."
Gibson's youth basketball camp was sponsored in part by the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, which provides camp scholarships and also offers the chance for students to attend ProCamps events for free by pledging to graduate.
Earlier this summer, Gibson endured a terrible family tragedy when his six-year-old nephew, P.J. Avitto, was stabbed to death in Brooklyn.
"It's tough. I think about him every day," Gibson said. "It's just one of those freak things that you never expect to happen to your family.
"Every time I talk to these kids about nonviolence and stopping the violence, I really mean it because I lost a lot of friends to the struggle, a lot of close family members, and I understand what goes on in the neighborhoods. I go to my neighborhood (in Brooklyn) almost every other day. So I understand, but it's one of those things where you have to keep your family close and love them while they're here."