Taj Gibson reunites with Tom Thibodeau as Knicks bring back veteran, per report
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. The Knicks are bringing back veteran big man Taj Gibson, according to Ian Begley of SNY. To clear make room, the Knicks waived forward Omari Spellman Thursday.
Gibson spent last season with the Knicks and averaged 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 62 games, but was waived in November before his salary for this season could be fully guaranteed. But now, with the team off to a hot start, and injuries to Obi Toppin and Nerlens Noel, the team is bringing Gibson back.
It also must be noted that Gibson is a favorite of new head coach Tom Thibodeau. Between the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves, Gibson and Thibodeau have spent seven seasons together, and have a great relationship. In an interview last year Gibson defended Thibodeau from criticism about his style, saying the coach is "misunderstood" and "just trying to make guys better players."
While the Knicks are winning, some of those criticisms are emerging again in the first few weeks of this season, as Thibodeau has leaned heavily on Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The two young forwards are playing well, but leading the league in minutes at 38.6 and 38.1 per game, respectively. For context, no NBA player has averaged over 38 minutes a game since 2016, when James Harden did so for the Houston Rockets.
To be fair, injuries have played a big role in Randle and Barrett carrying such a heavy workload, and that's one of the reasons the Knicks are adding Gibson. Though he's well past his prime, he's still a reliable veteran who knows what he's doing and can give you some minutes off the bench. Plus he's a well-respected locker room figure and will help Thibodeau in his efforts to build a winning culture.
The only concern here would be if Thibodeau starts relying on Gibson too much once everyone is healthy, and that takes away opportunities from the Knicks' young players. While they want to win, and appear to be much better than anticipated, this is still a long-term project at Madison Square Garden. But as long as that doesn't happen, this is a solid move by the Knicks.