Bulls player preview: Taj Gibson

With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Taj Gibson

Age: 28 | Pos.: PF | Salary: $7,550,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Gibson's numbers last season (8 points, 5.3 rebounds a game) looked similar to the ones he's been putting up for the last few years, but he struggled in different stretches last year and admitted he was putting a lot of pressure on himself after signing an extension last opening night. This year that extension kicks in and he will be looked upon to take the next step in his development. What that means for Gibson is he must become more consistent with his jumper and maintain his usual high level on defense. Gibson will be expected to be one of the leaders of a bench group that Bulls management is expecting big things from. His easy-going presence in the locker room remains a big positive for an organization that prides itself on chemistry.

What happened this summer?: Gibson was supposed to play for Team USA in its mini-camp in Las Vegas this summer but an ankle injury kept him out. As he has done the past few summers, Gibson split his time between New York City and Los Angeles while continuing to work on his game.

What does the future hold?: Gibson will continue to be the main backup behind Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. He will be expected to play both the four and five positions as the Bulls figure out how they want to split minutes off their bench. There is a chance Gibson becomes the starting four next season after the Bulls likely amnesty Boozer next summer -- but that is a bridge Gar Forman and company will cross later.

Bottom Line: Gibson is reliable and has earned a solid reputation for himself in the league, but Thibodeau needs the 28-year-old to be able to knock down open shots with more frequency.