Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t’ confirm a starting lineup after the morning session of the team’s first day of training camp on Tuesday.
“I want to experiment with some things in preseason to see how everything fits.” Thibodeau said. “I do like the versatility of our big’s because I think they can all play with each other, and that’s a big plus. And what may best work for our team, I’m not sure yet. Same thing with the perimeter guys – the one thing that we know is Kirk (Hinrich) gives us great versatility, and that’s one of the reasons why I think he’s so important to our team.
“You can play him at the point, play him at the 2. You can start him, you can bring him off the bench and I think that’s critical. Aaron Brooks had a great practice today. Taj (Gibson) played very well, so I like that. I think it gives us quality depth.”
While Thibodeau may not want show his hand so early in training camp, the first unit set – Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah – that tied the second unit during scrimmaging, it’s fair to believe this will be the starters going forward.
Coming off a most improved-worthy season, in which he finished most fourth quarters ahead of former teammate and starter, Carlos Boozer, Gibson figured to be inserted into the starting lineup entering this season. But that all changed when the Bulls acquired Gasol this summer. Following practice, the 14-year veteran affirmed his stance that he would like to remain in that starting unit.
“I think it’s important role for me to play,” Gasol said. “I like to start off games and do my job, utilize my skillset to the best of the team. Obviously, coach has to decide that and that’s it.”
From the comments today by both Gasol and Thibodeau, it sure sounds like the Spaniard will be receiving a lot of playing time.
“We’re talking about his experience with the Lakers and with Phil (Jackson), they didn’t have very many days off,” Thibodeau said. “He played a lot of minutes and that’s what he’s used to. He’s used to 37 minutes a game.
“So I think he shared that with our team – the willingness to make that commitment to work, and that’s what championship teams do. So I think that experience will be helpful for our guys; to understand what it takes and the price to pay.”
While quietly being upset over how instrumental and eager Joakim Noah was in the recruiting of Gasol, thus affecting Gibson’s opportunity to become a starter, Gibson claimed on Monday that it doesn’t matter if he starts or is a reserve again.
“I just go out there and play (with) whatever minutes I get,” Gibson said. “That’s the kind of player I am. That’s the luxury about having a player like me. I don’t care if I start or if I come off the bench, you’re going to get production out of me.”
Thibodeau finished games last season with the frontcourt of Noah and Gibson. With Gasol now in the fold, it’s going to be interesting to see just who closes.
“Taj was probably our best fourth-quarter player last season,” Thibodeau said. “Who we finish games with remains to be seen. We’re going to finish with the guys who give us the best chance to win.”
The price of a championship is sacrificing for the betterment of the team. Whether it be Gasol, Noah or Gibson doing the sacrificing will remain to be seen.