Taj Gibson

Taj Gibson doesn’t want to talk contract extension we all expect


The feeling around the league is that by the Halloween deadline, the Chicago Bulls will reach some kind of contract extension to his rookie deal deal with Taj Gibson. They like him too much to risk losing him as a restricted free agent next year — he’s a lock-down defender, good athlete, solid rebounder and his offense is making strides in efficiency.

But these kind of talks go down to the deadline — this is not a James Harden “max or nothing” kind of situation, this is about Gibson’s agent and the Bulls finding a number that works for both sides. (While that puts cap pressure on the Bulls in a couple years, they have the relief valve of amnestying Carlos Boozer.)

Gibson didn’t really want to talk about it when Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com asked him about the situation.

“When you’re in this situation, a lot of people are more focused on it than you. You just have to let it slide off your shoulders. Joakim [Noah] was talking about to me about it a couple of days ago, but I always just shrug it off. I really don’t even think about it,” he continued. “When you think about it, it kind of takes you away from the basketball aspect of it. But you really can’t do anything about it, except worry about what you can take care of and that’s the court work. Your agent and the GM has to worry about that.”

That is right out of the textbook of what you’d expect him to say. Gibson and Harden — who played against each other in AAU ball and the then Pac-10 — form a mutual admiration society in the Sam story.

There are a lot of GMs around the league in that same admiration society and they hope the Bulls and Gibson don’t reach a deal, they would like to take a run at Gibson as a restricted free agent next summer. Who doesn’t need athletic, hard-nosed defending forward? And with Derrick Rose out more scoring could be asked of Gibson this season, increasing his stock and price.

After losing Omer Asik last summer to a Rockets bid, the Bulls don’t want to go down that road with Gibson. Look for a deal to get done.

Just don’t expect Gibson to talk much about it.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.