Bulls, Taj Gibson starting contract negotiations

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They are talking. But if I were a betting man I would bet the open market is going to determine Taj Gibson’s worth.

Taj Gibson is about to enter his fourth NBA season, which means the Bulls can offer him an extension to his rookie contract. Like they did with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The two sides are talking, reports Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com — but there is a deadline, if there is no agreement by Oct. 31 Gibson will be a restricted free agent next summer.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while,” Gibson’s agent, Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein, told CSNChicago.com. “Gar and I have been putting a lot of work in.

“Taj would love to be a Bull for a long time, there’s no question about that.”

This really becomes about money. The Bulls are clearly setting themselves up to clear out cap space in 2014 to make a run at a major free agent (or to make a big trade) to pair with Rose. Gibson might well be the kind of guy they want around as a third option on that kind of team, but at what price?

Sam reports the Bulls do want to keep him.

Privately, the Bulls’ brain trust values Gibson very highly and acknowledge he’s a keeper, but if Gibson and the Bulls don’t agree to terms by Halloween, he’ll hit the open market next summer, albeit as a restricted free agent. Gibson won’t lack for suitors if he becomes a free agent, especially after raising his profile with another strong postseason performance, followed by an outing with the USA Basketball Select Team that drew raves from observers.

It’s a risk for the Bulls, if they don’t sign him and Gibson takes another step forward this season then he becomes more expensive when the suitors come calling.

It’s something to watch. My guess is he hits the open market.