(CBS) The Bulls have informed power forward Taj Gibson — the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award — that he’ll start next season, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, yet another sign that Carlos Boozer’s days are numbered in Chicago.
Gibson confirmed to Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley that he was told “to get my body and mind right to be a starter.’’
“I mean this will be exciting,’’ Gibson told Cowley. “This is what I’ve always thought about. When I started (those six games) for Boozer when he was hurt during the season, I just know how excited I was, how good it felt to come to the arena.’’
Gibson averaged 13.0 points and 6.8 rebounds last season in 28.7 minutes per game last season. He started eight games but otherwise came off the bench. In that six-game starting stretch when Boozer was injured, Gibson averaged 20.6 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Boozer is owed $16.8 million next season, but the Bulls can use the amnesty provision on him to wipe him from their salary cap. They would still owe him the money, however, thus making a trade more desirable. The problem is that Boozer is perceived to have little value to others around the league.
Gibson expresses great enthusiasm in the Sun-Times story and a belief that he’s in Chicago’s long-term picture to compete for championships. That’s been the Bulls’ message all along — after a season-ending playoff loss to the Washington, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned Gibson alongside Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah as the team’s core moving forward — but Gibson has been thrown in a few trade rumors should the Bulls decide to pursue a star like Kevin Love.