The Chicago Bulls and forward Taj Gibson agreed on a four-year extension prior to the deadline on Wednesday night. Gibson would have hit the market as a restricted free agent next summer had the two sides not reached an agreement. The deal was reportedly for $38 million, though that number is still speculative and could include incentives that Gibson would need to hit.
The forward was not optimistic about getting a deal done before the deadline prior to the Bulls’ victory over the Sacramento Kings, which makes the extension somewhat of a surprise out of the stingy Chicago front office.
“I highly doubt it,” Gibson said prior to Wednesday’s win. “That’s the way I see it. Just got to put it behind me, move forward, try to win games.”
Gibson, 27, has developed into one of the best defenders in the league, and his combination of size and athleticism has helped lead the Bulls to two straight seasons with the best record in the NBA. The forward’s defensive prowess has stabilized the Bulls bench and helped offset the liabilities that an aging Carlos Boozer brings to the defensive end.
Gibson seems to be the one that caved in the deal, after the two sides were reportedly $8 million apart in prior negotiations. He had previously stated he wanted to “retire a Bull”, and Wednesday’s extension certainly makes that more of a possibility.
“Pax and Gar stressed they wanted me here a long time,” Gibson said. “It dawned on me I didn’t want to be a selfish player. I wanted to get what’s fair. It’s a lot of money. I can’t really turn it down, especially for the security. You never know what can happen during the year. At any given moment, I could pull a groin or hurt my knee.”
That quote is hard to interpret, as both sides can spin it how they want. On one end, it sounds like some Bulls brainwashing. Not a selfish player? I think that letting the market determine Gibson’s value would have shown him otherwise. There’s a difference between being selfish and getting what your worth. Not that I believe he is actually worth 12, 13, 14 million per year, but in the wacky NBA world, some team would have likely offered it.
Regardless, Bulls fans should be relieved that a deal got done. After Omer Asik left for Houston as a restricted free agent, its likely that Gibson could have met the same fate had the front office let him go that route. Never underestimate the ridiculousness of some NBA general managers.
With Gibson’s deal hitting the books, it all but assures that one of Chicago’s core players will be gone come 2013-14. The Boozer amnesty that Bulls fans have been clamoring for will likely happen, unless Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t feel like paying him not to play. The whole situation depends on whether the Bulls will look at the amnesty as a cap savior or as more money to dump into the team. Judging by the past actions from the “financial champs”, I wouldn’t be shocked if they thought the latter.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.