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Gibson Wants To Remain In Chicago

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‘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.”


Bulls Have To Grind With/Without Deng

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few teams in the league have shown a better understanding of how to survive without a key player than the league-leading Chicago Bulls.

They lose reigning MVP Derrick Rose for a few games with that bad toe and don’t miss a beat.

So while it’s obvious that the Bulls know exactly what to do when one of their big dogs is out of the lineup, it will be interesting to see what they do with Luol Deng on the shelf with that “Kobe Bryant” (torn ligament) in his left wrist.

It’s strange how Deng and Bryant’s names have criss-crossed over the course of Deng’s career. Don’t forget, it was reportedly Deng that the Bulls tried to send to the Lakers in a deal that would have brought Kobe to Chicago years ago. Reports that Bryant was objecting to any deal that included Deng (he wanted to make sure the Bulls had enough talent to compete for a title) is a testament to the value Deng’s peers place on his game.

That’s impressive for a player with no All-Star appearances on his resume yet and is one who is often overlooked when the conversation of the best small forwards in the game comes up.

Even more impressive will be the Bulls’ continued ability to grind through the avalanche of nicks, bumps and bruises that they’ve been able to brush aside so far (16-3 and atop the Eastern Conference and the league). They host the Pacers tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

“I know it’s a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but really, I think it will fine,” Deng, who is trying to avoid surgery, told reporters yesterday. “We’ve got a good team, and I think I’m going to be fine.”


No More Boozer Bashing … For Now

DALLAS – We’ve been tough on Carlos Boozer here at HT over the years, dating to his disappearing act just last season in Utah, when the Jazz were blown out of the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

We’ve often argued that Boozer’s impressive numbers were a bit deceiving compared to what you see from him during the heat of the moment.

ut he shut us up last night. He did what the Bulls pay him to do in helping punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the Michael Jordan era, where a showdown with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the real Heat awaits.

Boozer, finally recovered from the turf toe that plagued him early on during the conference semifinal series against the Hawks, certainly looked like the difference-maker he was supposed to be when the Bulls signed him as a high-dollar free agent last summer. So, it took some hollering from MVP Derrick Rose to get Boozer to stay aggressive (he yelled at Boozer to “SHOOT THE BALL” a couple of times). That’s fine.

Make no mistake, it was Boozer’s 23 points and 10 rebounds, which included a wicked start to get the Bulls going from the opening tip, that made the biggest difference in closing out the Hawks. And now that Boozer understands what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wants out of him on the defensive end, this Bulls-Heat matchup should be even more intriguing.


Uncle Sam’s All-Star Picks

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We have a policy here at the hideout. When Uncle Sam Smith (the vests are a family tradition) speaks, we listen. And he’s weighing in with his All-Star picks, the first set of early returns will be unveiled today. Uncle Sam’s All-Star Picks: