Another big decision faces the Chicago Bulls. What to do with fourth year forward Taj Gibson?
He is eligible for a contract extension before the start of the season. And according to reports, both sides are working on an agreement.
But, if the Bulls can’t come to an agreement with Gibson before the Oct.31 deadline, then they can extend a qualifying offer to him in the off-season. That offer, worth a guaranteed $3.2 million would make Gibson a restricted free-agent, and that presents the chance that some team may offer him a contract outside of the Bulls’ price range.
Big-men don’t come cheap, just ask Kwame Brown. And big-men with Gibson’s physical talents are rare in today’s NBA. But how valuable is Gibson to the Bulls?
Let’s take a look at his defense.
The reason why the Bulls lead the NBA in opponent points allowed was the defensive prowess of their trio of big-men, Gibson, Omer Asik and Joakim Noah. And among the trio, Gibson was statistically rated the best defender, leading his team is defensive efficiency.
Opposing teams scored only 92 points per 100 possessions with Gibson on the court, which was the Bulls’ best mark.
Strategically, Gibson’s value on defense is immense. He has the quickness to stay in front of perimeter players on switches and then recover back to his man to contest their shot.
And speaking of defense, he also had a big impact of Gibson was on the court, the Bulls corralled available defensive rebounds 77.3 percent of the time. This fact suggests not only does Gibson corral contested rebounds—he is also conscientious about keeping his man away from the offensive glass.
Offensively, Gibson is less spectacular, but much improved averaging 15.1 points per 40 minutes a game. Last season he averaged just 11.8 points per 40 minutes a game.
In other words, his offensive play wouldn’t have justified his playing time if it wasn’t for his extraordinary defense. But now, he is even less of an offensive liability.
Chicago already lost Asik to the Houston Rockets over the summer. And if the Bulls are to remain legit contenders this year, Gibson’s special talents will be needed.