Phoenix Suns: Working Out A Deal For Taj Gibson

Feb 4, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) reacts on the court against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at US Airways Center. The Bulls won 101-92. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) reacts on the court against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at US Airways Center. The Bulls won 101-92. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

Leading up to the NBA trade deadline, most Valley of the Suns regulars were well aware of how badly I wanted the Phoenix Suns to make a move for Taj Gibson. For a team that needed rebounding, interior defense, toughness and frontcourt depth, Gibson’s experience in all of those areas would’ve been a great help.

Unfortunately, Goran Dragic‘s comments about not wanting to re-sign with the Suns pretty much harpooned those dreams. The front office to had to get whatever value they could for him, they panic-traded Isaiah Thomas in a deal with the Boston Celtics and they threw in a coveted top-five protected pick to acquire Brandon Knight.

But now that the season is over and the Chicago Bulls face a summer of potential restructuring and roster retooling, it’s time to revisit the likelihood of bringing Gibson to Phoenix.

In a column/eulogy on the Bulls yesterday, Grantland’s Zach Lowe detailed how Chicago’s front office is in a bit of a pickle moving forward. This current Bulls team isn’t quite talented enough to compete for championships, and their frontcourt foursome of Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic really can’t thrive unless someone goes.

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The Bulls need to re-sign Jimmy Butler to a max deal this summer, and because they’re notorious penny pinchers, it’s worth noting that keeping their young two-way star would leave them with only 11 players and minimal room before crossing into the luxury tax. Mike Dunleavy is a free agent and Chicago’s next coach might actually use his bench players, so rounding out the roster is important.

Bearing that in mind, the Bulls may once again take the cheaper route and clear out their frontcourt logjam with a trade. Mirotic is pretty much guaranteed to stay given his rookie scale salary and his ability to spread the floor, Noah is basically the heart and soul of the Bulls and though Gasol’s career is winding down, he had a resurgent season in the Windy City.

That leaves backup power forward Taj Gibson as the most likely trade candidate. With Dunleavy possibly gone (he’ll receive some nice offers this summer, and it’s hard to see how the Bulls keep him around with straying into luxury tax territory again), the Bulls need a small forward who can defend.


Lowe only briefly touches on the subject in his column, but he still brings it up as a possibility:

"The Suns could use an extra big if Brandan Wright leaves, and they have two young wings in T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin who are ready for minutes. A deal involving Gibson and P.J. Tucker might work."

Aaaaand that’s basically it. Again, it’s not much to get overly excited about, but at this time of year, what else is there to do but imagine how a potential Gibson trade might look?

For the Bulls, Tucker seems to be the perfect fit for their DNA. He’d fill a position of need on the wing, he’s tough, he hustles his butt off, he defends, he plays with intensity and he can (occasionally) knock down a three. The Suns re-signed him to a three-year, $16.5 million extension last summer, so he’s a cheaper option than the two years and $17.4 million remaining on Gibson’s contract.

However, it’s unknown what this team’s identity will be moving forward. Tom Thibodeau’s team is clearly built for defense, which means the Bulls desperately need a wing who can really light it up from the offensive end to improve. Though Tucker fits in with Chicago’s current defensive identity, he’s not that guy offensively.

Furthermore, it’d definitely take more than Tucker alone to entice the Bulls, who could probably net more value in a trade with another team. Even with Gibson approaching his 30s, he may be worth a future first round draft pick to someone.

For the Suns, Gibson would be a no-brainer fit. Tucker has been a locker room presence and floor leader, but Phoenix should be allocating minutes to Warren and Goodwin moving forward. Hell, the argument can be made Warren should start over Tucker next season during this continued rebuilding/development phase.

The Morris twins’ future in Phoenix isn’t as certain as it once was given their recent legal troubles and with Brandan Wright being an unrestricted free agent this summer, his status here isn’t guaranteed either.

Gibson would fill a hole as either the starting or backup power forward, and he’d also be able to teach Phoenix’s young bigs a thing or two about rebounding, playing defense and just not being pansies in general.

This isn’t really a make-or-break issue. The Suns will start the year off contending for a playoff spot, but unless they land a star free agent this summer, next season will be all about development. Gibson could help with that and with a potential playoff push, but not making a move for him wouldn’t change the goal of the 2015-16 too much.

That being said, having a gritty veteran like Gibson (and potential insurance in case this situation with the Morrii goes south) wouldn’t be a terrible idea. The question is how much the Suns would have to give up in addition to Tucker to make this deal become a reality.

Next: Phoenix Suns: The NBA's Most Depressed Fan Base?

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