2011 NBA Playoffs: LL Taj G

After the Bulls beat Miami by 21 points in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, several of my female friends suddenly became infatuated with Taj Gibson (keep in mind, this is his second year on the Bulls — but I digress). Love statuses on Bookface combined with marriage proposals and wishes of carrying Taj Gibson’s baby led me to believe he had the same effect as an LL Cool J song. It’s true though, the 25 year old from USC has played a helluva post-season:

But after 2012, things may get dicey for the Bulls and Gibson. Taj has a team option for $2.2mil for the 2012/13 season (that will hopefully be exercised). But if the Bulls are strapped for cash, they may choose not to exercise the option and let Gibson walk (not good).

Given Taj’s age, potential, and productivity, he may be offered starter money after the 2012 season. This is a problem for the Bulls as they have massive amounts of money locked up in four players:

Player | Age after 2012 Season | Salary
Luol Deng | 29ish | $13.3mil,
Joakim Noah | 29ish | $11mil,
DRose | 24ish | $17+mil + Chicago tax revenue + 1 Rahm Emanuel
Carlos Boozer | 31ish | $15mil

I may be getting ahead of myself but I believe the future of the Bulls at PF is Taj Gibson. But the Bulls may be stuck with an overpaid PF [Boozer] while letting youth walk out the door -- a move typical of a team in Wrigleyville (that was for you, Tyler Colvin). The two players that the Bulls MUST keep around are Omer Asik and Taj Gibson. But for this to happen, one of the above players must be traded (and we know it won’t be DRose).

Regardless of outcome, the best time to trade Boozer would be after this season. With his history of injury and age, Boozer may be untradeable by 2012. Otherwise, Gibson may continue to add limited value by coming off the bench until Boozer is traded (which no one can say at this point) or is released to free agency after 2012 (if the Bulls don’t pick up their team option); God forbid he ends up on another team in 2013 (Dare I say: the Heat?).

Love Taj while you can, ladies. Like most good men, he may be off the market before you know it.

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