Coach Tom Thibodeau used an intriguing comparison when discussing Luol Deng’s role for this season’s Timberwolves.
“He’s sort of in the role of Kurt Thomas when I was in Chicago,” Thibodeau said. “We knew (Thomas) would be ready. He filled in and did a great job.
“Lu’s a voice of reason. He says the right things, does the right things. He’s not in the rotation and he comes in every night to shoot. I think that example is key for our players. Luol’s probably not the same guy he was five years ago, but he’s still good. He’s capable of playing well in a game. I know that.”
Extending the 2010-11 Bulls metaphor, Taj Gibson is the, well, Taj Gibson for the Timberwolves — steady, dependable, ready to rebound and defend no matter the role.
It has been quite the career for Gibson, one of the most low-maintenance players in the NBA. Gibson averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 80 games, including 19 starts, for those Bulls, who drafted him out of USC with the 26th pick in 2009.
Now, he’s reunited with Thibodeau and starting. In fact, he has started all 102 games since signing a two-year, $28 million deal in free agency in 2017.
Gibson is averaging 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 26.4 minutes. Those numbers are similar to his 10-year career averages of 9.8 points and 6.4 rebounds.
“Man, I’m still in the NBA. Every day is a blessing. Every day is fun,” Gibson said. “You get to get up, work out, play the game I love — which I would do for free — on any given day. Be around great guys and still grow. I’m having a great time.
“Everybody’s journey is different. You look at my rookie year, my draft class, so many guys not playing anymore. Look at the guys who were starting ahead of me when I was on the Bulls and a lot of them aren’t even in the NBA. I’m still very thankful of the moment, of the opportunity I get, and how I learn every day.”