Taj Gibson Trade Rumors: Thunder Reportedly Targeting Bulls PF

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 19: Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls rebounds against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center on December 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson is on the Oklahoma City Thunder's list of potential targets ahead of the NBA's trade deadline on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Marc Stein of ESPN reported the Thunder are a team to watch in the final hours before the trade window closes, and Gibson is a player who piques their interest. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today later reported he was told the Bulls have been seeking a first-round pick for Gibson.

The 31-year-old USC product has been a popular name in the rumor mill. He took the outside noise in stride, though, telling Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago it was all part of the territory as a professional athlete.

"Of course [the trade talk is] gonna get hotter," Gibson said. "No matter what happens, you're still in the NBA. You're still getting paid a lot of money to play basketball. People don't understand that. They think it's bad half the time. No it's not. It's the same paycheck, just on a different team."

Goodwill reported the Toronto Raptors were linked to Gibson before they made a separate trade to acquire Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic. He asked the veteran forward whether he paid attention to his possible landing spots.

"I've been hearing the chatter for years. But you never know," he said. "I just keep my head straight, focus on the team I'm on at the moment, because if you start looking at other teams and other stuff, it kinda gets tricky as hell."

Gibson is enjoying another solid campaign in Chicago. He's averaging 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 52.1 percent from the floor. He also ranks 18th in value added among qualified power forwards for the current season.

The question is how much other teams would be willing to give up for a potential rental. The eighth-year pro carries an $8.95 million cap hit for 2016-17 and will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, per Spotrac.

Gibson likely slots in as the Thunder's starting power forward if a trade is made, which would represent an upgrade from Domantas Sabonis. It'd also give them a much-needed boost in frontcourt depth until Enes Kanter is cleared to return from his arm injury.