Bulls forward Taj Gibson declared he’s confident the Chicago Bulls can still compete without Derrick Rose and predicts his role expanding this season.
Rose ripped his left ACL on April 28 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. He went through surgery on May 12, and the recovery is expected to take between 8 to 12 months.
The Chicago Bulls went 18-9 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs without Rose last season.
“We still did good even when we didn’t have Derrick (last season),” declared Gibson. “We beat the Miami Heat without Derrick.
“Our perspective hasn’t changed. It’s about staying focused and taking one game at a time. We understand it’s going to be up and back down at the beginning of the season. We will not look forward to the end. We got to look forward to one game at a time and playing to our strengths and just listening to train (Tom Thibodeau). I know it will be a long season, but I’m truly optimistic about what’s going to happen.” Basketball spreads
Entering his 4th season, Gibson said he and Thibodeau expect more of him this season. Gibson averaged 7.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 20.4 minutes last season.
“Thibs already told me that he wants my role to change, be more of a leader now,” Gibson said. “I worked out with him a lot in the summer. I worked out with him before the (Team) USA camp. He just wanted me to work out this entire year, build confidence and improve. He thinks I’m able to do a load more on and off the court. I’m prepared to take that next step.”
Gibson thought the next step was being more of an all-around player.
“Just playing more solid, just coming in knocking down some 15-footers, back-to-the-basket play, plenty of stuff like that I’ve been working on during the offseason, a lot of stuff like that in the USA camp,” Gibson announced.
Gibson is in the last year of his rookie contract. He revealed there have been talks about an extension, but either way he isn’t going to let it affect him.
Gibson lately returned to Chicago from California and intended to begin workouts at the Berto Center. He was hoping to see several of his colleagues there also.
“Right now we’re simply considering getting into training camp, that’s why most guys are coming in right now,” Gibson asserted.
“We’re going to have a quick head start on guys understanding the idea of the team. That’s the reason why I’m here a month early, so I can get down and dirty.
“The one thing about our team — the majority of our core is still intact. This next step will be big for us because we’re not going to have Derrick, and it should be an opportunity for guys to develop and mature. Not knowing when Derrick is going to come back, it’s going to put more pressure on guys to step up and perform. We understand that. We have fellows who can play big-time minutes. Now it’s up to us simply to perform.”