Even as Derrick Rose doesn’t know when he’ll return to the Chicago Bulls, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich could return as soon as tonight’s game with the Portland Trailblazers. Both are listed as game-time decisions.
Gibson, who hasn’t played since Feb. 24 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been sorely missed. The Bulls only have two competent NBA big men with Gibson out, and while the signing of Malcolm Thomas will help, Gibson is mostly irreplaceable.
Hinrich hasn’t seen action since March 2 against the Brooklyn Nets. His absence has been mitigated, however, by the presence of Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague. Neither player is amazing, but it’s better than nothing.
Regardless of Gibson’s status, Thomas needs to see action. Thomas is significantly better than Nazr Mohammed and is also substantially younger, which means he should immediately get all of Nazr’s limited minutes and also some of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer’s minutes, as long as we’re here. There’s no downside to this.