Will Taj be joining Omer on a new team next season?

The Bulls top priority this off-season was to resign back up center Omer Asik. Were they really cut off at the knees due to the Gilbert Arenas loophole or were they never going to match a serious offer on Omer anyway?

Reportedly, the Bulls offered Omer the full MLE [the most they could, but still considerably less than what Houston was allowed to offer], but when you look at how much the Bulls would have had to pay the team if they kept him, it seems unlikely that this would have worked out well as Taj Gibson would almost certainly needed to go in order to keep Omer long term.

That said, with Omer gone, one of the Bulls greatest strengths, big man depth, took a significant hit. They now have three big men, and quite frankly, it's hard to count on the group staying healthy despite having a reasonably healthy 2011-12 campaign. Carlos Boozer has historically missed considerable time, while Noah and Taj have both had recurrent nagging foot and ankle injuries.

However, while their depth may look a little shaky now, how will it look if Taj Gibson walks away next year? I've thought before it might be one of Omer or Taj needing to go, but looking at the numbers it might be both.

So far, the silence on the Gibson extension front has been deafening.

It's easy to see why. The Bulls don't want to pay Taj 10-12 million per year in an extension now, but if I'm Taj Gibson, it might prove difficult to convince me to sign for less. My thought process might go something like this if I were Taj "Omer freakin Asik, the teammate whom I'm vastly superior to just received 8 million per year, why the heck would I sign for less than 10". Quite frankly, I don't know how to argue against that.

The problem comes down to, surprise-surprise, money. The Bulls have 63 million wrapped up in Rose, Boozer, Noah, Deng, Hinrich, Butler and Teague. Add 1 million for Hamilton's buyout if they're unable to find a taker for him at the trade deadline, and Chicago's sitting at $65,554,343 for seven players. Imagine if you added five million for Omer?

If Taj starts at nine million with a four year extension worth 40 million the Bulls would be at 74.5 million for eight players with a minimum of adding around 4.4 million to fill out the roster with minimum salaried players pushing the Bulls to 79 million dollars. The early number for luxury tax projection for next season is 72-73 million which sets up Chicago to pay 9.5 to 11.5 million in luxury tax if they only use the minimum to fill out the roster. [Yes, that means not using their draft pick]

Of course Chicago could afford to do that. The Lakers are likely to spend somewhere over 60 million in luxury tax next season which makes the Bulls potential bill look like a silly complaint, especially given their profits.

However, even if the Bulls are willing to spend 10 million or so in luxury tax next summer, they'll have to make tough choices. This scenario leaves Teague as the starting SG with Butler backing up both SG and SF, Hinrich starting at SG, and a minimum salary player backing up Center, not using their Korver trade exception, and not using their draft pick.

In other words, as disappointing as this off-season was, don't expect much more next off-season. Chicago has shown a lack of commitment to winning this year, and I find it unlikely that they're going to change anything in a single season. They'd rather keep together a very good team at a reasonable price than attempt to build a great team and lose profits.

Sadly, the only action that is likely to change this is if Derrick Rose walks in and demands change the way many superstars before him have. The only thing that threatens the Bulls profit train is Derrick Rose making a stink about it, and of all the superstars in the NBA, he seems poised to be the least likely to do so. Especially publicly.

If Chicago isn't willing to spend a significant chunk of change on Gibson, then they need to start exploring trade scenarios for him now while they can still turn him over for something valuable. I said the same thing about Omer Asik last season. The Bulls should have looked at the writing on the wall and knew they couldn't match a decent offer on Asik and moved him for value. As much as it'd kill me to see Gibson go, it will kill me even more if we hang on to him to watch him walk away for nothing.

You can't play at being the Lakers and Clippers at the same time. If you're forced to run your team by making largely financial decisions, then it's imperative to make good ones even when the choices are hard. If Gar and Pax don't have permission to pay 10+ million in luxury tax next season, then Gibson needs to go now for the best off rather than watching him walk away for nothing next season.

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  • Doug you are thinking way too far in ahead for Dumb and Dumber. It wouldn't shock me if they let Taj walk for nothing they are that stupid.

  • In reply to Chad:

    To be more precise, it would not shock me if Dumb and Dumber did not give Taj a market-value deal of $8+mil, and tell Taj to go into FA and see what his value is and we'll match him.

    Then after he gets an offer sheet of $9-10+mil, Dumb and Dumber is surpriseds and uses the excuse 'we didn't think anybody would offer Taj that much money'...and they let him walk for nothing.

    And by 'nothing', I mean Jerry reinsdorf gets to save millions to fill his pockets.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad, you're such a hypocrite that I wanna pee!
    Since when did you become a fan of Taj Gibson? You hate his guts and think he's a bum. Just the way you and the whores on the other so-called Bulls Blog hate Joakim Noah.
    Why don't you all commit suicide by jumping off the top of the highest building you could find.

  • I wonder if we'll be talking about Taj being grossly overpaid in 2 years like we talk about Boozer being grossly overpaid. While I love his defense, he hasn't developed a reliable jumpshot or much of an offensive game besides putbacks. I love him at his current salary, but if he's making 10 million per, I can see us looking desparately for a 4/5 who can score with regularity.

  • In reply to nafsllub:

    Taj at $8-10mil per is not overpaying. $8-10mil is his market value.

    As a rookie, starting 70 games and getting 26min, 9pts-7.5rbs-1.3blks.

    His 2nd and 3rd year (last season), he's averaged about 20min per game.

    Let Taj start for at least 30min, and he'll put up 12pts-10rbs-1.5blks...oh, and he'll play defense.

  • I think Taj won't just be looking at the money, but also whether he'll be a starter. It's the crucial time in his career to play big minutes and rack up good 30mins stats. Why would he re-sign with the bulls if he continues to play 2nd fiddle to Boozer, when he could start for another team. The Bulls not only need to pay for Taj, they need to trade/amnesty boozer. can't imagine any tears being shed if that were to occur.

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    Especially knowing Mirotic is coming over in a couple years too.

    But in the end, money tops everything.

  • I hope this is much ado about nothing. Hopefully they'll simply amnesty the crappy Boozer at the end of the year, and thus have money to pay Taj starting PF (as that's what he'll be) money. IF he actually develops a Horace Grant-like jumper, then he actually will be worth the money. As it stands, his defense on Bosh will be vital going forward ...

  • In reply to Curious E:

    They have money to pay Taj now without Amnestying Boozer.

    Amnestying Boozer and paying Taj doesn't do anything for Reinsdorf since Reinsdorf would have to pay Taj anyway.

  • Taj isn't vastly superior to Asik in the thing that counts for being overpaid as a big: height. Taj can't legitimately play center, so he's not going to get the sort of vastly inflated offer relative to his production that Asik got.

    That said he'll still get offered more than the Bulls are willing to pay. So I think they will end up trading him to avoid having to pay. I don't think we'll like the trade though: my bet would be on him being used as the sweetener to shift Rip and avoid the luxury tax.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Not vastly, but he is superior to Asik.

    With the league being more perimeter oriented due to the lack of true low-post Centers, Taj is more valuable than Asik.

    Asik got $8mil per year.

    Taj will get $10+mil per year on the market. If CHI isn't willing to pay him that now, trade him to get something of value back.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    He's superior, sure, but for him to be overpaid as much as Asik was he'd need to get a max deal from somewhere.

  • you can bet there's another daryl morey doing his homework and crunching the numbers. Teams have seen how Asik and Gibson impacted games by their superior defense and rebounding. In fact when Taj was doing the scrimmages against team USA, he had many coaches from other teams and players telling him how they want him to play for their team. His midrange jimmy is inconsistent but everything else about him is solid as a rock, a tough competitor that plays hurt and hustles....he is Chicago Bulls basketball and not retaining him is a huge mistake. We have seen both Noah and Boozer struggle defensively, you just can't afford to lose your best big man defender because other teams are waiting to snatch yet another Bulls asset away. Enough of this Santa Claus mentality, letting assets like Asik and Ben Gordon go for nothing. Pay him or trade him, just don't get Asiked again.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    100%.

    I knew Asik would get $8mil per on him being a defensively sound 7 footer.

    Taj is more versatile, which makes him more valuable. If Humphries can get $12mil per year, what do you think Taj can get?

    My prediction will be $10+mil for sure, so if CHI isn't willing to pay him that now, trade him before we get Asik'd.

  • I think what you see with the Bulls is the definition of Operational Management. Each decision, in of itself, is defensible in one way or another. Omer is a perfect example. Holding onto him was defensible (only real advantage over Heat and other teams was size/depth). Not matching Omer made sense (too much and would have negatively impacted salary cap structure).

    Put all of their decisions together, though, and you see an astounding lack of strategy. Even when they cleared the decks for 2010, it had a very haphazard feel to it.

    Now, not all strategies pay off. Take the Mavericks. They went into the title defense having moved critical players with an eye towards making a run at Deron Williams and Dwight Howard that never presented itself. Brooklyn was positioning themselves for a Deron-Howard pairing, too, and came away with a pricey consolation prize in Joe Johnson.

    That all said, I expect the Bulls to move forward with Taj in the same manner they approach everything else. If they can defend whatever decision is made at the time, that is the route they will go, regardless of what the future ramifications/benefits may be.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    What you described is short-term thinking on the part of the Bulls.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    And not to mention perpetual mediocrity. I fear the day that Dumb and Dumber have lots of cap space and I am sure they do too.

  • In reply to Chad:

    We already know what they would do with tons of cap space...

    1) Fail to recruit/attract the top FAs

    2) Not smart enough to realize if they can't get the top FAs, to sign 2nd and 3rd tier players to 1 year deals so they can carry that cap space over to the following year

    3) And instead of that, overpay the remaining FAs because they don't know how to plan long-term

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Which is why I don't expect the Taj situation to end well. If you think of all the possible outcomes, most end badly for the team in one way or the other (he leaves for nothing, trade away for pennies on the dollar, they re-sign for more than they should preventing other moves, etc, etc). The only two I can think that work out well, he signs for below-market or is traded for similar or better value, are pretty far-fetched.

  • Big test for the Bulls, they have to get this done before some team comes in and offers a high price and starting job.

    I think The Bulls have learned their lesson with the Houston team offerring Asik that huge amount of money for a player that cant score, catch a ball and plays defense for what 15-20 minutes a game.

    Gibson is far more better than what Asik has to offer and teh price will not come cheap, Bulls are gonna have to make a decision and I think they will keep Gibson, pay him and allow Boozer to hit the trail.

  • In reply to BullySixChicago:

    I don't think they've learned their lesson. They'll still Dumb and Dumber with no imagination or balls to take risks (pun intended).

  • Give away Ben Gordon for nothing. Lose Asik for nothing. Now Taj is next in the crosshairs. Hmm. Next to poor planning and forsight or downright managerial inpetitude, what other impetus is their in essentially running a big market team on the cheap?

    Thinking about the Bulls avoiding the luxury tax and the hits to their roster(and fans) that implies, you start to wonder about ownership. I wonder how many NBA teams are owned by a comsortium such as the Bulls consist of. Is it the same type of situation with the White Sox?

    One day I was reading the list of Bulls 'shareholders,' and it was extensive Dr. So and So, the family of Walter Schamkowski etc. etc. My questions are: again, how many 'co-owners' or shareholders do the Chicago Bulls represent? Is this common or unusual compared to other NBA franchises particulalrly large market/big cities like N.Y., Chicago, L.A.? How does the Bulls number of shareholders or co-owners compare to the White Sox?

    Honestly, when I have more time I'll look into this more myself, but right now Doug or someone else whose job or ineterests coincide with this field I believe this information would be of serious interest to die hard Bulls fans. It also might shed some light on the Bulls unusual situation of big city, small market operation.

    Is Chicago(the Bulls) so beholden to their shareholders that even a slight reduction in profits minus a M.J. type of phenomena requires Reinsdorf to grease those wheels regulalrly and handsomely without fail? Or is it more just a case of him personally wanting the most profit for his shareholders and especially and including himself?

    Seeing N.Y. owned by a profit monolith like what is it Cablevision(?), L.A. pulling a Yankees YES Netwwork type of mega deal for insane reveunes to fuel luxury tax mega payroll spending, I mean maybe this mom and pop consortium overseen by a self-admitted apathetic basketball frnachise owner is a recipe for failure. Maybe an outcry for new ownership i.e a fan revolt seen in empty U.C. seats is what it will take plus turning off the television revenues spigot by not watching Bulls games next season..?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Reinsdorf is not going to sell his team just because a few diehards dislike him.

    the UC is still being filled up so he has no reason to lose this profit Center of his.

    The ONLY solution to our problem is a need for 2nd Pro-Ball team (MJ's team would be the only one that would work).

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I think a lot of the problems can be laid directly on Management. Losing assets for nothing and holding them past there peak values are all faults of bad management. You could justify the second by being a title contender. They are not nor were they unless you make silly comparisons about Bulls being healthy and other teams not. You could say Asik leaving is on Reinsdorf but seriously who pays 8 mil for a backup center that gets 17 mins a game? If he was a starter as he will be for Houston you can justify that but management should have been able to see that he would get offers in the 7+ range. They rolled the dice on him as they did with Gordon and as they will with Taj and lost. Why because they are idiots that never learn. They say you couldn't trade him and be a serious contender last season? What does that say about Noah?

    I would rather have a draft pick or another player with upside than lose a guy we spent 4 second rounders on for nothing. When we lose Taj we will become one of the least athletic teams in the league. As long as the Bulls are led by the inept duo of Dumb and Dumber we will never be serious title threats.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    My favorite football and baseball teams (not Chicago teams) are in the hands of horrible ownership. As a result, I have gone from a die hard to a fan who only pays modest attention. Eventually, I will ignore these teams entirely. Eventhough this blog has turned negative towards Jerry Reinsdorf, he would be flattered just by the attention, positive or negative. The only hope of any change is to hurt Reinsdorf in the wallet, and the only way to do this is by treating his team as if it didn’t exist. It’s difficult for fans to do this, and that’s what Reinsdorf’s counting on.

  • Doug, good to read that you're coming around a bit on Rose having to... not saying that he will, start complaining and questioning the direction that the Bulls are going in. IMO this lies in the lap of Rose, he's a former MVP of the league and he should be able to question managements direction for the team.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The only problem with this idea is, why would he complain? The Bulls have won 60 games and 50 games the last two years. He blames himself for losing to the Heat and I'm sure he feels that they could have won last year if not for injuries. So Rose might feel their is no problem. And this ofseason, while he might not like seeing his teamates leave, they are being replaced by more offensive minded players. He might actually feel he has a better shot at winning. In his mind, what is there to complain about?

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    There's plenty to complain about...its just some fans can't understand and no offense but you seem to be one of those fans. The team that the Bulls have now will not compete for a championship and that is the main goal here. Winning 60 plus and 50 plus games 2 years in a row means nothing. Trust me on this, no one outside of Chicago was impressed with the Bulls regular season wins the last 2 years.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I understand what you are saying. I'm looking at it from Rose's point of view, not a fan's point of view. I'm not sure Rose looks at the situation as hopelessly as the fans do. I would bet he feels that the Bulls are right where they need to be. As a fan, I'm not so sure. I still think they could end up in the conference finalls if everything plays out right, but I agree that they will not win the title this year. I do think, though, that they match up with the Lakers better than the Heat do. IF they were to somehow get out of the east, I think they could really push LA.

    I think just the oposite though on people's reaction to chicago. I think people outside of chicago were more impressed than the fans close to the team. The response by most fans on this blog seem to be that of disgust and under valueing players. It seems to me that, outside of chicago, people generally think highly of the Bulls as an ellite team and players like Deng and Noah as ellite players. Not saying I'm right and your wrong, it's just the impression that I get.

  • Another thing which is puzzling is the overpayment of Hinrich on a two year deal that could pose a problem in trying to retain Gibson. Like Doug said, maybe it would of been better if the Bulls held on to CJ for one more year and had that most of magical bulls words.."flexibility" to resign Gibson. For the love of the three stooges, what possessed Garpaxdorf to overpay him that money? The Bucks? I'd rather keep Gibson and go with nate as the starting point.

  • If the Bulls aren't willing to pay Taj $9-10mil right now, they need to trade him before they lose him in FA (because he will definitely get paid that amount somewhere else).

  • If you have not seen it and you are a fan of Scal, Sam Smith has a great article on Bulls.com. Good article about a good guy who worked hard his whole career. I wish him the best in whatever he does next.

  • I just can't wait for the games to start I'm so sick of money/ contract off the court bullshit. It's just frustrating now.

  • I find it hilarious that Bulls fans would refer to Gar Forman and Jon Paxson as Dumb and Dumber. Not like they haven't orchestrated a team with two straight best records or sign a rookie coach that earned Coach of the Year honors or select Derrick Rose No. 1 overall or make the neccesary moves to acquire Taj Gibson's draft pick. No, you guys are right, Dumb and Dumber.... SMH. I hope they keep Taj, but if he signs an offer sheet before extending I understand.

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