There are few gamers Tom Thibodeau has grown to belief extra throughout his three NBA head-coaching stops than Taj Gibson.
Gibson was reunited in New York final season with Thibodeau, his coach with the Bulls and the Timberwolves. Gibson meant a lot to the material of the Knicks and their first playoff berth in eight years that Thibodeau needed the veteran large man again as a trusted lieutenant and security valve within the paint, even with younger heart Mitchell Robinson’s anticipated return from March foot surgical procedure.
“He’s an incredible veteran chief. It’s like having one other assistant coach on the market. He simply is aware of every thing,” Thibodeau stated about Gibson after apply Thursday in Tarrytown. “He doesn’t make errors, he performs laborious. He can guard each place. His capturing, actually he’s at all times been a fairly good shooter, from 15 to 17 [feet], however now he’s actually comfy capturing the three. He’s put lots of work into it.
“So I believe that’s what good veterans do. They proceed so as to add to their recreation and he’s finished that.”
The 23-year-old Robinson and fellow heart Nerlens Noel, who has knee and hamstring points, didn’t seem in any of the Knicks’ first three preseason video games, though Thibodeau stated both or each may gown Friday evening towards the Wizards within the staff’s remaining tuneup earlier than the regular-season opener Wednesday towards the Celtics.
With these two out, along with looking at rookie heart Jericho Sims, Thibodeau has afforded starter’s minutes to Gibson, who inked a two-year contract value $10.1 million over the summer season.
“My preparation is at all times the identical. I at all times carry power in apply. I at all times do my basic stuff, so I’m at all times simply prepared,” stated Gibson, who had 21 factors with 9 rebounds and two blocked pictures in 31 minutes in Wednesday’s preseason win over the Pistons. “I do know as soon as I get on the court docket, my protection is at all times going to be there. I can at all times rely on my protection.
“More often than not, I attempt to simply do one thing I do know can have an effect on the sport.”
The 36-year-old Brooklyn native has been affecting outcomes of video games for 12 NBA seasons, and he’ll enter his thirteenth yr within the league as its seventh-oldest participant, behind large names resembling LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and others (if Udonis Haslem, 41, makes the Warmth roster, Gibson could be eighth oldest).
“My mentality so far as maturing, it’s actually like I’m nonetheless the identical man,” Gibson stated. “As quickly as I got here into the league, I already was older than many of the rookies. I at all times needed to adapt in another way.
“So daily I used to be a sponge and sucking up info. Now I’m slightly older, I’m simply reciprocating it and taking good care of my physique slightly extra.”
Gibson additionally continues to willingly function a mentor to Robinson, who’s getting into his fourth NBA season — and a contract yr — after enjoying in simply 31 video games in 2020-21 as a result of hand and foot surgical procedures. Gibson stated he usually shares with Robinson tales about gamers he has confronted or performed alongside, resembling former Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah.
“It’s nice having Taj round. It don’t get higher than Taj, man,” Robinson stated. “We really discuss lots, greater than we did final yr. For him to return over and he’s nonetheless serving to me out to this present day — particularly due to what I went by way of with the foot and hand, he’s form of stored me targeted, my psychological, straight. Hey man, you gotta recognize Taj.”
In fact, a wholesome Robinson and Noel possible will spell fewer minutes for Gibson, who averaged 20.8 minutes over 45 appearances final season.
“Our relationship, many of the guys, not simply [Robinson], all the blokes on the staff, I attempt to work with, we simply create a very good bond so far as simply working laborious in apply,” Gibson stated.
Requested if he believes Gibson will strive his hand at teaching at some point, Thibodeau smiled and stated: “I hope so. He’d be an asset to any group, and I hope I’m nonetheless round. I advised him he can play about 5 or 6 extra years after which we’ll go from there.”