Though Tom Thibodeau said it's not definitive, the Bulls' coach said
he is leaning towards starting Taj Gibson Saturday night against the
Clippers in the first game since losing Joakim Noah for eight to 10
weeks due to thumb surgery.
Gibson, who started most of last season and also when Carlos Boozer
was injured earlier this season, worked with the starters at Friday's
practice at the Berto Center.
"Depending on who we're playing, we'll look at different
combinations," Thibodeau said. "We're going to start off looking at who
we're playing and who will serve us best. All our bigs bring something a
"The one thing I do like about Taj is his shot-blocking is terrific.
He protects the front of the rim. His team defense is excellent."
Gibson said he's ready.
"I've done it before," Gibson said. "I just try to bring energy and play defense."
I have expected coach Tom Thibodeau to go with Gibson the entire time, as Gibson has answered the call every time he's been called upon the past two seasons.
Despite the fact that the Bulls would be pretty undersized with Gibson and Carlos Boozer, both at 6'9", both of them have excellent rebounding fundamentals.
Also, Gibson has a history of rising to the challenge when his number is called upon.
Last season, Gibson was given the bulk of the starts when Tyrus
Thomas didn't live up to his expectations. This season, with
offseason acquisition Boozer shelved with a broken pinkie, Gibson
stepped in and gave the Bulls a near double-double every night -- with
excellent defense and a consistent mid-range jumper.
I know, I know: the Bulls will be really undersized with a lineup of Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Gibson, and Boozer, but the latter three have great rebounding instincts and have been excellent rebounders throughout their respectful careers.
I also expect the Bulls to tinker with Omer Asik or Kurt Thomas at center. Thomas, like Boozer, is an undersized center, but he, too, has excellent rebounding instincts and plays consistent defense as well. Asik, on the other hand, is a project: he still looks slow on the court reacting to plays and doesn't have many established "go-to" post-up moves.
It would be for the Bulls' benefit if Asik was their starting center throughout most of Noah's absence, and I bet the Bulls' front office, too, is hoping Asik can emerge as an option to cover the five-spot during Noah's injury.
Nonetheless, Gibson is a safe option to start for the Bulls during Noah's absence.
He's proven he can step-up in the past and is the best big-man right now besides Boozer.