Taj Gibson reunites with Tom Thibodeau as Knicks bring back veteran, report says


The New York Knicks are off to a surprising 5-3 start, and they’re already making win-now moves that show they’re serious about ending their playoff drought as soon as possible. Knicks bring back veteran big man Taj Gibson, according to Ian Begley of SNY. To make room, the Knicks waived forward Omari Spellman on Thursday.

Gibson spent last season with the Knicks and averaged 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 62 games, but was canceled in November before his salary for this season was fully guaranteed. But now, with the team off to a good start and Obi Toppin and Nerlens Noel injured, the team are bringing Gibson back.

It should also be noted that Gibson is one of the favorites of new head coach Tom Thibodeau. Between the Chicago Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gibson and Thibodeau have spent seven seasons together and have a great relationship. In an interview last year, Gibson defended Thibodeau of criticism of his style, saying the coach was “misunderstood” and “just trying to make guys better players.”

As the Knicks win, some of those criticisms reappear in the opening weeks of this season, as Thibodeau relied heavily on Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The two young forwards are playing well, but lead the league in minutes at 38.6 and 38.1 per game, respectively. For context, no NBA player has averaged more than 38 minutes per game since 2016, when James Harden did so for the Houston Rockets.

To be fair, injuries played a big part in Randle and Barrett with such a heavy workload, and that’s one of the reasons the Knicks are adding Gibson. Although he’s well past his prime, he’s still a reliable veteran who knows what he’s doing and can give you a few minutes off the bench. In addition, he is a highly respected figure in the locker room and will help Thibodeau in his efforts to build a winning culture.

The only concern here would be if Thibodeau starts relying too much on Gibson once everyone is healthy, which takes away opportunities for young Knicks players. While they want to win and appear to be much better than expected, this is still a long-term project at Madison Square Garden. But as long as that doesn’t happen, it’s a solid move for the Knicks.

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