Generally speaking, when it comes to New York basketball buzz, despite having finished with a losing record in 17 of the last 22 years, the Knicks are usually the team cultivating the bulk of the attention.
That said, when it comes to the 2022 NBA offseason, without a doubt all eyes have been on their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.
Understandably so, as the summer festivities were kicked off with a June 30 tweet by Shams Charania reporting that Nets star Kevin Durant wanted out of Brooklyn, the franchise has been found stuck in the limelight for a little over a month now with no real end to the madness in sight.
Still, even with all this high-profile hoopla running amok, in one way or another it seems as though the conversation always makes its way back to the Knicks. Such was the case in an August 11 episode of “The Draymond Green Show” where he answered several questions sent in by fans, many of which had direct links to the orange and blue.
One inquiry, in particular, ended up being a major compliment for a former member of the Knickerbockers, as the four-time NBA Champion declared veteran big man, Taj Gibson, as the “non-superstar” that gave him the most trouble when on defense.
“Non-superstar that I have [had] trouble guarding my whole career is Taj Gibson,” Green said. “I feel like everyone in their career has one guy that is a damn good basketball player, but to the world you just, like, ‘oh man he does X, Y, and Z’ or ‘X’ or whatever. Or, in your mind, you may not think like ‘oh man he’s this superstar’, and I think for me that person has always been Taj Gibson.”
Taj Gibson Played a Big Part in New York’s Defense
Already viewed as a veteran that head coach Tom Thibodeau loves to roster after having spent a combined seven years of shared service both in Chicago and Minnesota, it didn’t take long for Knicks fans to have a similar appreciation for the big man.
Though he may not have stuffed the stat sheet or claimed any individual awards during his three-year tenure, Gibson proved his worth on the defensive side of the floor where he served as one of their best contributors, even finishing with the third-best defensive rating and second-best defensive box plus-minus rating (of those who logged over 400 minutes) on the league’s fourth-ranked defensive unit back in 2020-21.
Ultimately, however, the New York native’s stint with the Knicks came to an end this summer as Leon Rose and company waived him in an effort to clear up cap space for free agency pursuits.
After clearing waivers, the 37-year-old inked a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the Washington Wizards.
Gibson’s Departure Helped Land Brunson
Though Taj Gibson’s departure may have been upsetting for some to see, when it comes to New York’s front office, it was simply just a business move.
By waiving Gibson, the Knicks went on to free up on his $5 million salary cap hold, sparking a flurry of other financially driven departures that wound up generating enough flexibility to ink Jalen Brunson to a $104 million deal, a move that could end up “haunting” the Dallas Mavericks for years to come.