HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — If he has his way, Taj Gibson will wear a Chicago Bulls uniform for years to come.
While many of his contemporaries have created ways to exit their particular situations around the league, the Bulls’ power forward is looking to make sure he maintains his with a contract extension. Gibson will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season but has no interest in testing those waters.
Gibson said as much Thursday, telling ESPNChicago.com‘s Nick Friedell that whenever the Bulls get around to it, he’s ready to get something done:
“Really, it doesn’t matter (when it happens),” Gibson said. “I told (general manager) Gar (Forman) and (vice president John Paxson) how committed I am to just being with the Bulls. It’s not a thought in my head to leave Chicago because I love playing for the Bulls.
“I love wearing the Bulls logo across my chest. So that’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now. Right now, I’m just thinking about next year. Just come in and figure out how I can try to help the team better and just let the chips fall in place. A lot of guys tend to worry about that stuff, but I know I have a good agent in Mark Bartelstein and I have a lot of faith in what he does and I know I have a lot of faith in the Bulls organization so I’m just relaxing and practicing.
“I believe my future is here. Either mid-July or next year (for an extension), just have to be patient and just wait and see.”
Injuries to both Derrick Rose (ACL) and Joakim Noah (ankle) forced Gibson into a more prominent role in the playoff this season. And he responded by being the Bulls’ most consistent player in their series against Philadelphia, averaging 10.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
While there seems to be some uncertainty surrounding the return of Rose, in terms of when he’ll be back and in what state he’ll be in at that point, Gibson is convinced Rose will return better than ever, telling Adam Fluck of Bulls.com:
“I think he’s going to be better in my honest opinion,” Gibson reiterated. “It’s tough when you’re coming off so many different injuries. You [usually] don’t have time to work on your body [during the season]. But after this injury, he’ll understand more than ever how important it is to maintain your body and stay on top of your legs. As he works through this recovery, he’s already been pushing his legs and it’s great.”
Gibson said he’s seen Rose at the Bulls’ training facility grinding through his rehab in the way you’d expect from an All-Star and former MVP. The Bulls need all of the positive vibes they can get after that first-round exit against the Sixers. Gibson sticking around for the long-term is excellent news, but the news and views on Rose are even more encouraging.