Taj Gibson wants to stay with Bulls
The feeling is mutual.
Gibson, who will become a restricted free agent at the end of next season, knows the Bulls have a lot of other decisions to make before they get down to hammering out an extension, but he would like to lock something up which would make him a Bull for a long time to come.
"Really, it doesn't matter (when it happens)," Gibson told ESPNChicago.com Thursday afternoon. "I told (general manager) Gar (Forman) and (vice president John Paxson) how committed I am to just being with the Bulls. It's not a thought in my head to leave Chicago because I love playing for the Bulls.
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"I love wearing the Bulls logo across my chest. So that's the last thing I'm thinking about right now. Right now, I'm just thinking about next year. Just come in and figure out how I can try to help the team better and just let the chips fall in place. A lot of guys tend to worry about that stuff, but I know I have a good agent in Mark Bartelstein and I have a lot of faith in what he does and I know I have a lot of faith in the Bulls organization so I'm just relaxing and practicing.
"I believe my future is here. Either mid-July or next year (for an extension), just have to be patient and just wait and see."
Bartelstein confirmed to ESPNChicago.com on Thursday night that the two sides have had initial conversations regarding an extension. The sides will meet again later in the summer once the Bulls wrap up all the other decisions facing them in the short term, including the NBA draft and other roster moves.
Like Gibson, Bartelstein seemed confident the sides could work out an extension given the mutual respect on both sides. The veteran agent believes Gibson will continue to thrive in the same environment next season, and potentially for years to come if and when an extension is hammered out.
Gibson gave himself even more leverage toward an extension during the postseason, averaging almost 10 points and seven rebounds a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Derrick Rose (ACL) and Joakim Noah (ankle) out because of injuries, Gibson was the Bulls most consistent player. The 26 year-old admitted that he is still rehabbing an ankle injury he suffered during the series, but he expects to be ready to go in a month when he heads to Las Vegas as part of Team USA's select squad, made up of young players throughout the league who will scrimmage against the National team before they go to the London Olympics.
"I'm still rehabbing," Gibson said. "The ankle injury on my right (ankle) was pretty good. I turned it pretty good. I'm still taking it one day at a time. I'm still trying to rehab, rest my legs, because I'm off to another serious training camp at the beginning of July so I'm just taking it one day at a time."
Gibson, who just completed his third season in the league, is looking forward to competing against some of the best talent in the country.
"I'm excited," he said. "The coaching staff is real happy for me. They said it's a big move, especially being selected, it's great for my game. Especially to go in there and learn from other players, compete. But the whole outcome is just to learn and build confidence."
The power forward believes the experience will benefit both himself and the Bulls in the future. He knows he has elevated himself into the upper echelon of young players in the league, but he's trying to stay focused on what's ahead.
"It's good, but at the same time I just look at it as going in there and getting better," Gibson said. "Learning from other guys, that's the whole thing, just learning, just having the right kind of mindset, I know that it's maybe just a week of practicing, but I'm looking forward to getting better and using what I learned in our next training camp for the Bulls and our next season."
Gibson said he has spoken to Rose several times over the past few weeks since his surgery.
"I've been rehabbing the same time he rehabs. It's been going great from what I see," Gibson said. "He's pushing his leg to the limit. He's getting stronger. (The trainers) said he's ahead of schedule already and I think he's going to come back better and stronger than he ever was ...
"He seems great. I talk to him (about the) same stuff, laugh, giggle, we joke a lot in there. But at the same time it's business, because he's working on getting his leg back to (full) strength. But he's the same old Derrick, not a step behind."