NBA Rumor Mill season is upon us. With the league’s February 23rd trade deadline fast approaching, teams will more aggressively become buyers or sellers. Given the Bulls’ undeniable mediocrity (19-18) through the first half of the season, it would behoove Gar Forman and John Paxson to explore the possibilities as sellers. Most notably, they should see what kind of offers come through for veteran power forward Taj Gibson, who’s playing out the final year of his contract before unrestricted free agency this summer.
Count TNT and Bleacher Report‘s NBA analyst Greg Anthony as the latest of many league experts to predict that Gibson will be moved before the deadline. Taj is the first of five players whom Anthony named in today’s B/R video report citing players most likely to be dealt.
Kyle Korver's move marked the beginning of trade season in the NBA. Who's getting shipped next? pic.twitter.com/cLfXSS1bYb
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 9, 2017
“[Gibson is] having a terrific season, and is a guy who can hold down your front line. He can score a little bit with his back to the basket and knock down that midrange jumper.” – Greg Anthony
Anthony is right about all of the above. Gibson is having the best season of his career, having finally gotten the starting role he deserved for so long. He has plenty to offer on both ends of the floor, and many potential contenders could see him as the missing piece to their roster.
The Toronto Raptors, who pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to six games in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, could use some frontcourt help. Their backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan is one of the best in the league, and the Raptors can outscore their opponent most nights. But if they want to knock off the Cavs, they’ll need to get tougher inside. Toronto ranks 27th in the league in defensive rebounding, averaging just 31.6 per game. Gibson could definitely help in that department. Toronto is reportedly interested in Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, but Taj would likely be a cheaper option if there’s a bidding war for Millsap.
On The Block
Also included in Anthony’s top five list of likely trade pieces is Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel. The Bulls are rumored to be interested in Noel, who is stuck in an overcrowded 76ers frontcourt rotation. It’s looking more and more likely that they will keep Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, making Noel the odd man out. In a recent interview with The Vertical, Noel expressed his growing frustration with the lack of opportunity in Philly.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) January 9, 2017
That sounds like a guy who wants to be traded. The 76ers will likely make some calls gauging interest in the former #6 overall pick, and GarPax might be on the other end of one of those calls. Younger and more athletic, right? At the same time, if the Bulls successfully move Gibson they might want to give his minutes to Bobby Portis. Chicago’s 2015 first round pick hasn’t developed like they hoped, but also hasn’t been given many opportunities to expand his game in his sophomore season.
After going off-course with the signings of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, GarPax need to get back to the original plan: try to revitalize this roster with youth and draft picks. Bulls fans should expect the front office to be active leading up to the deadline. They might have a history of being quiet this time of year, but the team’s current situation calls for immediate action. They must be sellers, and Gibson is the most likely candidate.