Joakim Noah made the all-defensive first team and Jimmy Butler surprised by making the second team. The guy we felt was a lock, Taj Gibson, made neither and also fell short in the sixth man of the year voting. Taj Gibson's lack of award this season saves the Bulls 250k on next season's cap.
The Bulls cap number had already increased by 500k due to Joakim Noah's DMVP award, and the Bulls had planned extensively for the possibility of owing both Gibson and Noah money by waiving Murphy and calling in a favor with Utah to have them claim him. In the end, the move proved unnecessary, as Gibson didn't pick up the award.
If Gibson were to knock someone out for the award, it would likely be Kawhi Leonard or his teammate Jimmy Butler. Leonard made 2nd team forward while Butler was voted in as a guard. I think the team would have looked stronger if you simply called Leonard a guard and put Gibson in there as a forward, especially since Leonard is a wing defender (as is James the other 2nd team forward), however by the voting rules it simply doesn't work that way.
What does the award mean for Butler?
Does it raise Jimmy Butler's trade value? Does it make the Bulls want to hang on to him all the tighter? In an off season the Bulls have plenty of chances to make something happen it becomes interesting to have one of their minor pieces get this type of award to potentially raise their value.
My personal hope is that the award highlights Butler, but the Bulls remain quite open to the possibility of trading him. I'm not looking to just ship him out for the hell of it, but a huge portion of perimeter defense is having a good coach, high effort, and great defensive players behind you.
I think there's a pretty good chance you could bring in any hard working, very athletic wing player and have him become a second team caliber defensive player under Thibodeau with the current make up of the squad. Especially since a huge part of making an all-defensive team is having a great team defense on your own squad.
This isn't to disparage Butler's strong effort. He's a tremendous defender, worked hard, and is a deserving candidate. Under Thibodeau, the Bulls will likely always have multiple deserving candidates though simply because the team defense is so strong.
Condolences to Taj's family
Taj's six year old cousin, Prince Joshua Avitto, was stabbed to death in an elevator on his way out to get some ice cream in what appears to be a random slaying.
There's really nothing more awful than a child dying. As a parent, I can't imagine anything worse than one of my children being murdered. I'm not sure how close Gibson was to his cousin, but my thoughts are with his family.
If this sounds somewhat familiar, it's because Gibson's dealt with a lot of tragedy around him. He had lost three child hood friends in the summer of 2010. Two were shot, the third simply "disappeared".
That's a whole lot of death for one man to deal with. I hope the upcoming years are much kinder to Taj.
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