The clock is ticking in Chicago.
The Bulls have now less than 24 hours to reach an agreement and extend power forward Taj Gibson or he will hit the restricted free agent market when this season comes to a close and the offseason begins.
Having Gibson hit a semi-open market is the last thing the Bulls want, as that’s how they lost defensive big man Omer Asik this past offseason to the Houston Rockets. The Bulls thought they could make a deal in the offseason with Asik, but saw the Rockets literally swoon Asik with a $25 million contract.
Gibson is without a doubt far more important to this team than Asik was, but the lesson was clearly (and hopefully) learned. The logic is if Asik, a sub-par offensive player and above average defender, can garner a $25 million offer, imagine what someone as valuable and talented as Gibson can get.
The Bulls said that if Asik hit the market and got an offer sheet, they’d match any and all offers. Turns out they were blowing smoke but if an extension isn’t reached before 11pm tonight, all is not lost.
Sure, the Bulls might have to overpay but they can match any and all offers Gibson will field come the offseason, and believe you me he will get some serious offers.
Now, the logic here is Gibson wants $10 million a year, and the Bulls want to give him no more than $8 million. The two sides could easily meet in the middle and go $36 million over the next four years, which is $9 millon per. But if Gibson hits the open market he could get a max contract from someone that really wants him and that would be an Asik part-duex situation for Chicago, and something that would just about gut the fan base.
It wouldn’t be like watching Derrick Rose walk away, but having both Gibson and Asik walk in two consecutive offseasons would so dismay this fan base that the Bulls would need to go out and sign a massive star just as a good faith gesture.
The sand hasn’t totally left the timer yet, and there’s still time to hash out a deal. If one is made, it will be an 11th hour type of deal that will see the two sides meet in the middle. The question is who’s middle will be met?