Taj Gibson adding some caution to his latest recovery


Apr 4

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Taj Gibson took a walk in Derrick Rose’s shoes the other day, and it didn’t feel too comfortable.

“You have people saying you shouldn’t have come back so soon, be careful. You’ve got so many different aspects of people in your ear giving you so many different opinions of what they think you should do,” Gibson said Thursday morning as he discussed his own latest setback, which turns out to be minor, from a sprained knee ligament. “All I want to do is go out and play, help my team win, lead by example, go out do the right things. And I got bit doing something so simple. I have to get back to my rehabilitation.”

Gibson suffered a recurrence of his sprained MCL and left Tuesday’s loss to Washington in the first half when his knee buckled. Everyone feared a serious setback, though Gibson said the exam showed an issue with healing scar tissue which coach Tom Thibodeau called a slight sprain. Gibson is out for Thursday’s game against the Nets. He didn’t say when he might return, though he did say he intends to play again in the regular season. The informal estimate sounded like he could be out about a week.

Taj Gibson

So he joins Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli likely also out Thursday (Thibodeau said, “We’ll see.”) along with Richard Hamilton and Rose. Noah and Belinelli are considered close and could play any day now. Hamilton has indicated he would try to play in the regular season and perhaps could play next weekend. Rose, of course, remains uncertain.

So immediately, the Bulls could use Malcolm Thomas or Vladimir Radmanovic for spot minutes. Though given the trends it would be more likely the Bulls would play a smaller lineup longer with Luol Deng at power forward along with extra minutes for Carlos Boozer.

The Bulls currently are sixth in the Eastern Conference, though just a half game behind Atlanta. The Nets are fourth, two and a half games ahead of the Bulls. So Thursday’s is a potential playoff preview as the Nets seem likely to be fourth or fifth in the East. They won in Cleveland Wednesday night without injured starters Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. Though they have big men reserves in Andray Blatche and Kris Humphries along with robo rebounder Reggie Evans, which makes playing small more difficult against them.

But it seems unlikely the Bulls could fall to eighth now with Milwaukee with five more losses. The way playoff matchups go, if you are sixth or seventh you avoid the top seeded team if you get that far until the conference finals. The Bulls issues, though Thibodeau is not one to ever maneuver to seedings and matchups, is the Bulls probably matchup best—assuming everyone injured but Rose plays—with Brooklyn. But if you are sixth or seventh, you aren’t in the bracket with Miami until the conference finals and the Bulls have had success against both Indiana and New York, though the Pacers won the season series this season.

“Whoever is available,” Thibodeau said about who he will use Thursday. “Get out there and get the job done. Whoever can go has to get out there and get the job done. That’s the way we’ve been operating since the All Star break. We’ll see how it unfolds, see if somebody needs rest. We’ve got to keep playing.”

But also given Gibson’s scare coming back a bit too soon in his view was the thought about Rose.

“Derrick, he’s handled it the right way from Day 1,” said Gibson, reflecting what generally seems like a team wide view. “He’s listened to himself. The same way I did. I listened to how I’d react. I knew when the training staff told me what I could do and how it feels. It’s your opinion first. You’re in charge of your ship. So when I went out there I felt like it was good. But anything can happen.”

Anything can happen, Gibson’s experience suggested, when you are not fully healed as Rose is not now. After all, if Rose were he wouldn’t be on a minutes limit if he returns, which he would be. And anything did happen to Gibson. So he’s taking a step back for now.

Gibson speaking to reporters before Thursday shootaround said, “Thibs has a theory: If you’re hurt, you can play; if you’re injured, you sit out.”

So now Gibson is injured, though he says given the positive MRI he will analyze his pain and marry that with a bit of caution as he moves forward.

Taj Gibson

“My mindset when I first came back (was to play with pain),” Gibson said. “I knew we were sliding down the pole almost close to the eighth spot. I wanted to come out here and help us get some wins and bring a little energy from being in the back seeing the games to where I see them.

“What happened to me shows that I came back a little too quick,” said Gibson. “I think now I’m on the right track moving forward. I’ll see how I am feeling. (Yes), it could happen again. I have to have my mind ready and have my body prepared for the outcomes because I know we’re making a playoff push and everyone is needed right now.

“I don’t plan on trying to be out a long time,” said Gibson. “It depends on how I’m feeling. It’s sore right now. It could be less sore tomorrow. That’s how the knee works. Basically everything got healed up. But the scar tissue got tangled up in there and that was the most painful part.

“They told me with the ligament repairing itself, they said the scar tissue, once it gets knocked around… it would be weak and when you rush back they told me it would be painful and might be a little weak,” Gibson added. “But I never thought it would buckle on me like that doing something so simple.

“In a way it does (make you more cautious),” Gibson said. “You just have to keep moving forward. I just want to get my leg stronger. I have a long way to still go. The way my knee has been feeling, one day it’s really sore and the next day I feel great. The last two days it was really sore. I’m taking the proper precautions. But I want to come back way before playoffs because I just don’t want to go into the playoffs and not know what to expect.”

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