Heading into the 2010-2011 season, the future of Taj Gibson was an uncertain one. Despite his rookie success as Chicago’s second pick in the 2009 NBA draft, behind James Johnson, there was talk that Gibson could find his way out of the Windy City.
The fact that he was such a young player, who showed a great deal of potential, and can play multiple positions down low made him a valuable asset as the Bulls were seeking out trading partners, most notably for a scoring guard.
While guys like Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were also mentioned in these types of rumors, Gibson’s name was the one that appeared most, with the Bulls not looking like they would be able to get much in return unless Gibson, a former USC product, was involved in such a deal.
But the Bulls held on to Gibson. And surprisingly, they would not make a trade for the entirety of the season, even at the trade deadline when everyone was expecting it. And much to the delight of a majority in Chicago, Gibson remained a Bull for the 2010-11 season.
His value to the Bulls was evident right off the bat. With Carlos Boozer nursing an injury for the first month of the season, it was Gibson that was forced into a starting role for these Bulls. Taj posted four double-doubles in Boozer’s absence, with the best of his performances coming in a 17 point, 18 rebound win over the Dallas Mavericks in which Gibson grabbed eight offensive boards.
Once Boozer returned, Taj’s minutes became a bit more inconsistent, but still proved that he was capable of producing off the bench, especially in terms of rebounds. Even with those inconsistent minutes after starting for a month, Gibson finished the season with 458 total rebounds. As a comparison, he wasn’t too far behind the 565 Boozer posted on the season.
But it was during the playoffs that Gibson really proved his worth to this team. What Gibson brought couldn’t always be measured in terms of scoring, though. What he did always provide for the Bulls in the postseason was an emotional presence off the bench, which was particularly noticeable in the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami.
That could not have been more evident than it was in Game 1. Locked in a shot-for-shot game, which was the trend in their series against the Heat, Gibson’s emphatic dunk on Dwyane Wade gave the Bulls all the momentum they would need to run away with the series opener. He wasn’t done with the high-flying antics, though, as he grabbed a one-handed rebound and put it back down to further the Bulls’ lead.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they would go on to lose the series in five close games, and Gibson wouldn’t see extremely consistent minutes for the rest of the series, which may have played some sort of part in it.
And now, once again, the future of Gibson as a Bull is something that has been left in the air, with many expecting the Bulls to take the necessary measures to get past the Heat. However, there are many that think Gibson is a talent capable of starting, and should be given the job over the 75 million dollar man, Carlos Boozer.
There’s certainly a case to be made there. Gibson plays consistently and has proven to impact the team in a positive way emotionally, unlike Boozer who seems to have a difficult time rallying the team around him. Boozer’s scoring is completely inconsistent, as is his health. The Bulls could seek a trade option for one of them, but it’s likely that both will return for next season.
Of course, the Bulls could decide that they won’t be able to afford Gibson once his rookie deal is up, which would be an extremely unfortunate turn of events for Gibson and Chicago. Either way, we should know the future of this former Trojan before the summer months are over.