In a story I wrote on May 3, I made a list of every player to play under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago. I was joking at the time, but first with the Jimmy Butler trade, and now the reported signing of free agent power forward Taj Gibson, last of Oklahoma City, it looks more and more real.
The report, first from Shams Charania of the Vertical and later confirmed by several other media outlets, is that Gibson has agreed a two-year, $28 million deal with the Timberwolves. USA Today’s Sam Amick reports that the deal has no option of any kind on its second year. Like the Jeff Teague deal, this is another example of the Wolves signing shorter deals to maintain necessary flexibility for the second contracts of their young core.
Gibson turned 32 last week, so he’s not the most spring chicken, but this is no four-year max contract for Paul Millsap. Gibson knows Thibodeau’s defensive system inside and out and should bring much-needed stability to the Wolves’ interior defense. One would assume at this point that Gibson will start and Gorgui Dieng will move to backup center, a move that makes positional sense for everyone involved.
The move does use almost all of the Wolves’ remaining cap space, and almost certainly confirms that Shabazz Muhammad has played his last game in Minnesota, as his contract will need to come off the cap for this to work. One wonders if a move away from Cole Aldrich is in the future so that the Wolves can sign literally any wings to come off the bench. Overall, it’s a fine move, and Gibson is fine, but he’s not Paul Millsap. Whether or not that’s a good thing overall will be a determination for the future.