Taj Gibson has been through thick and thin with the Chicago Bulls, but as he enters the last year of his deal, his time in Chicago might be numbered. Chicago is strapped for cash, a log jam in the frontcourt, and are in need for future assets. In this article, we will take a look into who would be interested in acquiring Gibson’s services.
Chicago does not need to trade Taj Gibson, who provides a good defensive presence off the bench, but with nothing for young depth, flipping a replaceable Gibson for a future asset would be the best thing for Chicago. Not to mention, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Cristiano Felicio all need more minutes to continue their development, and all offer a better return on the court than Gibson.
It would be hard to imagine Chicago trading away one of their best assets to a divisional rival, one who are desperate for some interior defense. However, of all the teams who could look for Gibson’s services, Milwaukee has quite a few assets to make a deal work. Chicago will already be depleted from the three point line with their new backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, also the unreliability of Jimmy Butler from three. Milwaukee drafted the three point shooter, Rashad Vaughn in last year’s draft. Vaughn was very disappointing for Milwaukee fans this past season, but has shown his ability to score in this year’s summer league. Adding Vaughn would allow Chicago to add some depth to their backcourt, as well as a potentially deadly three point shooter if his development continues. Milwaukee does this deal to get the defensive frontcourt member they desperately need. With the recent signing of Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic, Milwaukee is not as desperate for three point shooting, and with the current frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker, Miles Plumlee and Thon Maker, Gibson would instantly be the best rim protector for them. A package surrounding Vaughn and some second round picks should be enough for the Bulls to let Gibson go, since the market for his limited skill set will be small.
Another divisional rival who could use some beef in their frontcourt. With Frank Vogel being let go, as well as adding Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson, while letting Ian Mahinmi go, Indiana’s frontcourt is very defensively depleted. Indiana does not have much to offer in a trade, but they could give a package built around Rodney Stuckey and a first round pick. Indiana has built a dark horse contender this offseason, full of proven veterans, but they lack some nasty to make a deep run in the playoffs, and Gibson could give them that. Stuckey would give the Bulls a versatile swingman to back up numerous positions, while a first round pick is the real prize here. Even though this pick might be in the 20-30 range, Chicago has had plenty of luck getting great prospects in this range, and could turn into another young star. Indiana decides to make this trade a reality, because without some interior defense, Tristan Thompson will eat them alive. Gibson has the toughness to not get bullied by Thompson, and has the ability to hinder Kevin Love, much like Draymond Green did in the first half of the finals.
Los Angeles Clippers:
The Los Angeles Clippers are in a win now mode, especially with Blake Griffin becoming a free agent next offseason. Another first or second round exit will likely send Griffin to more promising lands. The Clippers did draft Brice Johnson, who is basically a younger version of Gibson, but he has been all over the place during summer league, and likely will not contribute right away in the league, and Gibson gives the Clippers the bench presence to continue punishing the questionable frontcourt of Golden State. The Clippers do not have much to offer Chicago for the likes of Taj Gibson, but could look to trade Paul Pierce and a first round pick to make this deal happen. Pierce will likely not be enough for salary purposes, so maybe the contract of C.J. Wilcox as well. Pierce would also give Chicago some reliable depth at the small forward position, and a capable three point shooter, something their roster is currently lacking. The first round pick may not have a lot of value, due to the Clippers likely selecting in the 25-30 range, but that just means Chicago would get a very cheap rookie to develop, and save their salary cap for marquee players. The Clippers do this because the only weakness the Golden State Warriors have is in their frontcourt. Griffin, Jordan, Gibson, and Speights would be the combination of toughness and finesse needed to out muscle Golden State, and contend in a series. Chris Paul and J.J. Redick can put up enough puts to keep up with the backcourt of Golden State, so the platoon of Wesley Johnson, Branden Dawson, and Luc Mbah a Moute will have the duty of trying to shut down Kevin Durant.
Boston did a good job of adding a stable piece to their frontcourt in Al Horford, but still need to continue adding toughness to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers. There are rumors that Boston is the frontrunner to land Russell Westbrook, so I would not expect to see a role player trade happen anytime soon, but more likely during the season. Boston does have last year’s first round pick in Jordan Mickey, who is another defensive orientated frontcourt player, but he continues to struggle in summer league, and cannot be counted on to contribute once again this season. Adding Gibson to the frontcourt would give the Celtics the needed toughness to pair with Amir Johnson and Al Horford to bully the combination of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Boston is one of the most fertile franchises in the league, loaded with young talent, and future draft picks, making them able to make nearly any trade possible. James Young and R.J. Hunter have struggled to find minutes in the crowded roster of the Celtics, so pairing these two up to get an established veteran might be the best thing for the Celtics who are looking to win now. Young and Hunter would give the Bulls two young, cheap players, who are relatively untapped on their potential. Hunter was a deadly shooter in college, something Chicago could desperately use.
Dallas has done a good job adding a few pieces for Dirk Nowitzki to remain competitive in his likely last two years in the league. Harrison Barnes will help give the Mavericks a solid two-way player at the small forward position, while the acquisition of Andrew Bogut gives the Mavericks a legitimate rim protector. Even with Bogut, the frontcourt of Nowitzki, Bogut, Dwight Powell, and A.J. Hammons is very thin. With Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson, and J.J. Barea, the backcourt seems set for a productive year. Barea is likely the most expendable of this unit, and would give Chicago a reliable combo guard, who can flat-out shoot. Dallas would likely have to throw a second round pick in to sweeten the deal, but second round picks are a huge gamble anyways. Gibson would bring the consistency to the frontcourt for Dallas off the bench. Bogut has not been able to stay healthy in recent years, so Gibson provides an excellent back-up rim protector to keep Bogut well rested for the playoffs when his services will be highly demanded. The loss of Barea would hurt the three point shooting of the Mavericks, but Justin Anderson has really emerged this summer league, and could take over his role.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17