The surprising New York Knicks made a rather unsurprising move on Thursday, planning to sign veteran free agent big man Taj Gibson as the team deals with a thin frontcourt and waiving 23-year-old Omari Spellman, the team announced.
With 8th overall pick Obi Toppin still out with a calf strain and Nerlens Noel still out with a sprained ankle, the 5-3 Knicks elected to sign a familiar face.
The 35-year-old signed a two-year, $20 million contract in the summer of 2019 with a team option for the second season. Gibson started 56 of the 62 games he played in for the Knicks last season, averaging just over six points and four rebounds per contest in 165 minutes per contest. But new team president Leon Rose declined Gibson’s option and waived him before the offseason with the possibility that the Knicks could ultimately bring him back.
Gibson played for new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota, enjoying the best seasons of his career for those Thibs teams. The USC product and Brooklyn native brings a veteran presence and a strong locker room influence back for a young New York team that’s been one of the surprises of the entire league early on.
The Knicks are ranked 7th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and have won five of their last six games. But Thibodeau only played eight guys in Wednesday’s 112-100 win over Utah as much of the frontcourt is currently unavailable. SNY’s Ian Begley and Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported the planned signing earlier Thursday afternoon.
Marc Berman of the New York Post previously reported that the team was looking at both Gibson and former New York standout Tyson Chandler, who previously won NBA Defensive Player of the Year with the team in 2011-2012. Gibson has been training in Los Angeles and worked out for seven teams including the Washington Wizards, Berman said.
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