Taj Gibson wants to stay with Bulls

Updated: July 23, 2014, 6:38 PM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- With his name in trade rumors for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Wednesday he doesn't want to leave Chicago, but is prepared for anything.

"It's tough, but it's a part of the business," Gibson said. "I've been in the league for a while now, I've been around some great veterans that taught me a lot about the game. The one thing that [they say] is be grateful that somebody wants you. Be grateful to be in the NBA and just focus on your game. You can only do so much -- just focus on your game and focus on getting better."

[+] EnlargeTaj Gibson
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsTaj Gibson finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season.

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Bulls are making a late push to try to acquire Love, but the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the favorites to land him, according to sources. Any deal involving the Bulls likely would include Gibson, who will make $8 million next season. NBA writer Chris Sheridan reported Wednesday that the Bulls have offered Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and first-round draft pick Doug McDermott to the Timberwolves for Love, according to sources.

Gibson, who finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, acknowledged that the talk is "flattering," but he knows he ultimately doesn't have any control over what happens.

"Of course [a trade] would hurt because it seems like everybody's family," he said. "But at the end of the day it's a business, I totally understand that. Whatever happens is going to happen, it's in God's hands, in the GM's hands. All I can do is be a player and represent whatever team I'm wearing their jersey. But I hope I don't have to leave Chicago any time soon. This is like my first home."

Gibson said he hasn't been told by management that he would be on the move any time soon.

"I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein on Tuesday]," Gibson said. "He didn't say anything specific about any trades. You have to wait and see. Sometimes it can be a rumor, sometimes it can actually happen, but that's part of my job. It happens every year since I've been in the NBA. You just got to keep rolling with the punches, I guess."

When asked about a potential trade for an All-Star player like Love, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Wednesday that the Bulls are always looking for ways to improve the team.

"The league has become a 12-month league now and it's our job to have conversations with everybody around the league and get a feel of what's happening, who might be available," Forman said on 87.7 FM. "Anytime there's something that is available that we feel could improve our team we've got to take a look at it. That's our job. But we like where we're at with the additions that we made."

With the addition of Pau Gasol, McDermott and Mirotic, Gibson believes the Bulls are better than a year ago, especially if Derrick Rose can return to form after missing most of the past two seasons with knee injuries.

"It's a deep team," he said. "It reminds me of the team the year we went to the Eastern Conference finals [in 2011]. We were really deep. We had at least 10 or 11 guys that could really go. I'm looking forward to it. Everyone on this team is mostly focused on winning championships, winning games. We went to that next level, and I'm looking forward to it."

Gibson said he was never told by Bulls management that he would be starting this season, and didn't sound like a player who had any reluctance continuing to come off the bench in the wake of Gasol's signing.

Gibson was disappointed by the fact that free agent Carmelo Anthony didn't decide to join the Bulls. Gibson, who was part of the recruiting pitch to Anthony, says he understood why the All-Star forward decided to stay with the New York Knicks.

"When I was with Carmelo it was just mostly, we were just hanging out," he said. "Just a mutual respect being from New York. Just respecting our game, talking about so many different stories. That's the whole thing. We weren't really getting into the whole, 'Come in here, do this and do that.' We were just getting familiar with one another, just seeing how it happens. It just didn't go our way. It was all good talks, (especially) about the future.

"But at the end of the day he has to worry about his family and how he fits in and we understand that. Like Joakim [Noah] told him, 'We want you here. We want to win championships.' But if it doesn't come down to it, and you feel as those things that come with [moving] and your family and stuff, we totally understand that. We don't have no hard feelings. We respect your game, we respect you as a person, and that's how it is."

Despite Anthony's decision, Gibson remains convinced the Bulls still can contend for a title this season.

"I think we're one of the best," he said. "It's hard to say we're 'the best' because you've got the Pacers still coming back, they got Rodney Stuckey. They've got Cleveland. The East is getting better. You've got Charlotte -- they're a sleeper, they're good. D.C. is coming back strong, they've got winning chemistry.

"It's really tough to say who's the best. It's all about chemistry, about guys that really want it, work hard together, focus, sacrifice for the team. And I think that we have that. I really think that we have that. Derrick's [Rose] playing well, coming back healthy, I really think we have a legitimate shot."

It's a shot that Gibson hopes to still be a part of once training camp starts.

"In the NBA you never really know," he said. "Like I learned from the vets, you've just got to focus on your game. Just continue to be open-minded and get better. If anything happens, it happens, but Chicago is my home. I look forward to playing in Chicago hopefully for a long time. It's just a part of our business."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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