Report: Taj Gibson unhappy about idea of coming off the bench, but won't make it an issue
As a rookie in 2009-10, Taj GIbson started in 70 of the 82 games he appeared in for the Chicago Bulls.
That was with Vinny Del Negro behind the bench, and one of the first changes new coach Tom Thibodeau made was to turn Gibson into a highly-effective, albeit somewhat under-utilized, sixth man. The arrival of Carlos Boozer at the same time had more than a little to do with that, too, cutting into some of Gibson's potential minutes and requiring Thibodeau to pair Boozer with Joakim Noah to balance out the defense.
In the four years since Thibodeau took the helm, Boozer has drawn just 32 starts in 290 games, and it wasn't until last season when he topped his minutes load as a rookie, averaging 28.7. Rated as one of the most valuable players in the league on the defensive end, Gibson would be the starting four for many teams.
It appeared as if Gibson may be headed for a starting role this coming season with Boozer no longer around, but the Bulls also acquired Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, putting Gibson's status as a starter in question.
According to a report from CSN Chicago, that's not exactly music to Gibson's ears, though he is unwilling to make a fuss:
Privately, Gibson isn’t too thrilled with the prospect of continuing to be a reserve, according to multiple people familiar with the situation, but the upbeat, team-first player values winning and chemistry too much to make it an issue or distraction. Furthermore, being an underdog his entire basketball career, it could serve as motivation and help him thrive, building upon last year’s bounce-back campaign and improvement as a scorer, which came after a disappointing, injury-riddled season immediately following a long-term contract extension with the Bulls on Halloween 2012.
Gibson has reason to be frustrated, if that's the case, and with three years and $25.5 million remaining on his contract, the approach he's taking is the right one.
With Boozer around, Gibson still got the important run, averaging 10.3 minutes in fourth quarters last season. It remains unclear who will start for the Bulls - Mirotic, Gasol, or Gibson could all start alongside Noah, and Mirotic starting may give the Bulls the best balance between units - and given their loaded frontcourt, Gibson may see his minutes reduced.
Far more important is that the Bulls are loaded inside, and with Derrick Rose entering the season healthy, they're in a very strong position. Gibson seems to understand that, and winning off the bench is still winning.