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Tom Thibodeau considers Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson starters

Jul 25, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

As long as they don’t trade a couple for Kevin Love, the Bulls have four extremely talented big men.

Around the NBA, you’d find several teams that would start Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol or maybe even Nikola Mirotic.

Of course – barring Joe Dumars/Maurice Cheeks-level creativity/foolishness – Chicago can start just two.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Noah, Gibson and Gasol. Thibodeau on The Game 87.7 FM (hat tip: CSN Chicago):

I’m not sure on who’s starting and who’s finishing yet, and I’ve told all three of those guys – Here’s the thing, I know all three are going to have a significant role. I have 96 minutes there, and I look at all three of those guys as starters. So, we’ll see how it unfolds when we get to training camp and we let them play together.

It’s a great problem to have.

Noah and Gasol are entrenched as NBA starters, but Gibson is definitely starter-quality. He finished games for the Bulls last season in place of Carlos Boozer, an arrangement that worked well.

Thibodeau faces a tough decision about which of the two to start and use to close games.

Divvying up those 96 minutes between power forward and center won’t be easy, either.

In addition to Noah, Gasol and Gibson, Mirotic probably deserves a role. He might need some time to develop and get accustomed to the NBA, but also might be ready sooner than later.

Can Thibodeau keep all these players happy? That’ll be a big part of his job this season.

  1. 24thesho - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Well, you definitely have to start Noah. He’s the true leader of the three and of the team; at least, from where I’ve been watching.

  2. bball242322 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Yeah it’s more between Gasol and Gibson. Noah is a lock as a starter

    • hertzy23 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Gasol didn’t come to Chicago to sit on the bench. Gibson is a lock for 6th man.

      • calkinsrob - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        Yea I know gibson wont be thrilled about it, but hes gotta be the 6th man.

      • 1friendofthepeople - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        Gasol is much better at the 5 than the 4 though.

        Gibson isn’t a center although maybe he could play there for stretches.

        Considering how great of a coach Thib is he will get it to work optimally.

  3. samsonight1010 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Not a bulls fan, but I like taj as the 3 with butler playing the 2, that would be a huge and athletic 5

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:44 PM


    • 88heatnation - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      Take a moment just think about what you just said

    • bkbell3 - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      With that line up no one can stretch the floor and shoot from the outside let alone shoot 3’s. Teams would pack in the paint and rose would have no room to get to the rim. Even pau starting with noah will be tough without enough shooters to stretch the floor. Noah can be a problem for pau who is good in the post but noah is not a consistent mid-range shooter which pau is, but noah is not a good post up player. Tibbs has proven he is a great defensive coach but so far hasn’t shown he can be creative on the other side of the ball so far. Has rose improved his outside shot, has butler,Who knows yet. What will miritoc be in this league? Will rose be the same or even hold up? Lots of questions on the bulls this year. Like Mcbuckets though but summer league is a long way from playing against veterans and having to defend to stay on the floor.

  4. calkinsrob - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    I may be wrong here. But I think if they start all three it wont be as disastrous as detroits 3,4 and 5. I think Taj is a bit more athletic and a much better defender than Josh Smith. So on defense I think with good team defense behind him, Taj could cover the 3 spot. The issue would be on offense wouldn’t it? cus they all cant really play on the perimeter

    I bet theyll basically split the 96 min between the three and maybe take a little out of pau’s minutes to give mirotic some playing time, but I bet Mirotic will start playing at the 3 more.

    • calkinsrob - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      “I bet theyll basically split the 96 min between the three ***and only start 2 at a time and rotate***”

    • jerze2387 - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      I was thinking the same thing. mirotic has the shot to play the 3. they can have Mcdermott as the sharp shooting SF, Mirotic playing behind him and also backing up PF, Taj sliding between Sf and PF as the sefensive option, and pau can be the starting PF and slide over to C to give Noah a rest. it actually gives them plenty of depth an versatility at 3 spots, and that doesnt even factor in Dunleavy

      • bkbell3 - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        mirotic can’t cover sf in this league on the perimeter and we will have to see if mcbuckets can also. Pau at this stage of his career and in the east is prob. better at the center position because he can still post up but noah is there and is a shaky mid-range shooter which pau can do also. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I also don’t think taj can play the sf and they need shooting to spread the floor for rose to operate.

      • jerze2387 - Jul 25, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        All depends on the scenerios. If the Bulls are protecting a lead late in a game, Taj and his Defense at SF would work because you dont need him to run up th score, just stop the other guys from scoring. And like you said, if they need points from C, Pau can play there, Noah out, Mirotic in at PF, Mcdermott/Dunleavy at SF. That should give Rose plenty of space. Defensive lneup would be Noah, Pau/Mirotic, and Taj. I think it just gives them way more options, and allows Mirotic to just do what he can do as opposed to needing him to fill a specific role.

  5. seattlesuperchronic - Jul 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    James Harden thinks Chicago’s entire roster are just role players.

  6. vanhenge1234 - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I’m more concerned about keeping them all healthy than I am about them being happy. Fewer minutes for Gasol/Noah should help keep them fresh and ready to go in the playoffs.

    30 – Noah
    30 – Gasol
    26 – Gibson
    10 – Mirotic

    • spursareold - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      Has there EVER been a starter on a Thibs team that played as few as 30 minutes?

      • vanhenge1234 - Jul 25, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        Last Year:

        35 – Noah
        28 – Boozer
        29 – Gibson

        So it won’t be too different. The more Mirotic can soak up, the better.

  7. money2long - Jul 25, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    32 min

  8. chitownmatt - Jul 25, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    I think the media makes too much of a fuss over “starters”.

    Basketball is about matchups, not starters.

    Any coach knows you play the guy that matches up best against the guy they are playing, plain and simple.

    Who cares who starts the majority of the games?

    • savvybynature - Jul 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      I agree with you, but plenty of players do care unfortunately.
      I’ve always thought it was more of a sign of respect to finish games, especially close games. Who cares who starts? It’s the guys that finish that matter the most.

  9. saint1997 - Jul 25, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    I suspect Gibson will play the role of backup centre for much of the game, with him next to Mirotic

  10. campcouch - Jul 25, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    I wonder how Gibson’s career could have panned out not playing behind Boozer and now Gasol. But nobody is sitting the guys with the names or big contracts. With his talent he’d be a starter elsewhere and be getting paid.

    • mrhonorama - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:17 PM

      Gibson was a low first round draft choice who was age 24 when he came into the league. He was in no way, shape or form a starter quality player as a rookie. The Bulls turned out to be the right organization for Taj, giving him playing time and helping him develop his solid, basic post up game. For a career back up, he got a great deal. He is definitely starter quality now, but, like last year, he will play around 30 minutes a game and finish a lot of games. And since it’s likely Noah and Gasol will miss some games, he’ll get some starts too.

  11. imakcds - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    all I have to say is that with Noah doing what he does, Pau Gasol will return to all star levels. His numbers will most certainly rise, with Joakim watching his back.
    If you didn’t appreciate Pau before, I think Chicago is in for a treat.

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