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Taj Gibson shows he’s ready for a starting role

Updated: June 1, 2014 6:44AM

Taj Gibson isn’t a starter — yet.

While the Bulls are saying they haven’t made a decision on whether they will amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer, the playoffs have shown that life without Boozer might be a smoother transition than expected.

Gibson is a big reason why.

“He continues to grow, and [that] may be a byproduct of losing guys along the way this year,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “His role has changed. He’s responded well to the challenge, we needed it. He’s strong on defense, he’s strong on offense. He’s become a more confident player.’’

The next step for Gibson will be to work on the consistency of his midrange jumper as well as getting stronger around the rim. He’s more than willing to put the work in to make that climb.

“I see all the work I do paying off because I’m finishing games, Thibs is calling plays for me a lot,’’ Gibson said. “He’s calling [isolation] plays for me. He’s calling plays for me to win games. I’ve seen all the confidence and trust he’s had in me. At night, when I come in here to shoot, he’s there asking me questions about basketball. He runs me through tests, like ‘What do you think we should do when this happens?’ ’’

As far as the idea of being a core player, Gibson just wants to let the summer happen first.

“Right now, I just can’t think about stuff like that,’’ Gibson said. “You start thinking about that, you get sidetracked. You get sidetracked away from the game, get sidetracked away from all the work that got you to where you are.’’

Mind games

A lot has been made of Bulls players looking tired throughout the first-round playoff series against the Wizards, especially because of how long they have played short-handed. But Thibodeau doesn’t buy into that.

“No, at this time of the year, this is playoff basketball,’’ Thibodeau said. “Every team plays the same amount of games, so I think it’s more of the mind-set of, ‘Hey, these are the circumstances, and if we have the proper amount of will and determination, we can overcome anything.’ We’ve shown that through the course of the season.’’


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