The New York Knicks are parting ways with veteran forward Taj Gibson after three years with the team.
The veteran big man has been a personal favorite of head coach Tom Thibedeau since their time together with the Chicago Bulls, leading the Knicks head coach to acquire him for both the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York throughout his career.
Despite entering his age-37 season, Gibson has decided to continue his playing career, and according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the veteran big man plans to sign with the Washington Wizards once he clears waivers on Sunday, July 10.
During his three years with the Knicks, Gibson averaged 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game while shooting 32.8% from deep and 57.7% from the field. The New York native was also a key member of the Knicks locker room, as his veteran leadership helped balance a roster primarily comprised of young high-upside talent.
Many Expected Gibson to Re-Sign With Knicks
After the Knicks announced they had waived Gibson, the initial reaction among fans and media was that he would re-sign with the team for the veteran minimum or via the room exception, once New York had officially concluded their other deals.
“Taj Gibson’s contract was essentially made to be waived. Was not going to guarantee until Jan. 7. Knicks could waive him to create cap room if needed, and signing Brunson with room has seemed like the most likely option. Knicks could still bring him back on a minimum,” The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweeted shortly after the announcement had been made.
However, it now looks as if Gibson is heading for a new challenge with the Wizards, as they look to build a competitive roster around their star duo of Bradley Beal (who recently signed an enormous contract extension) and former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who the team acquired during a mid-season trade with the Dallas Mavericks.
Gibson Was Drawing Interest From Other Teams
On July 6, SNY’S Ian Begley reported that Gibson had begun to draw interest from other teams around the league since the free-agency period started on June 30.
“Multiple teams have expressed interest in NYK’s Taj Gibson during FA period,” he reported. “Gibson’s contract for next year is fully non-guaranteed. NYK could waive Gibson to create cap space for Brunson or acquire Brunson via S&T. His NYK teammates have roundly praised Gibson over the past 3 years,” Begley Tweeted.
As Begley noted in his tweet, the Knicks didn’t have to waive Gibson, had they been willing to finalize Brunson’s acquisition via sign-and-trade. However, any team who acquires a player via a sign-and-trade instantly becomes hard-capped for the upcoming season, and it seems that Leon Rose and William Wesley valued the financial flexibility, opting instead to waive Gibson to create the necessary cap room to sign their primary off-season target.
The Knicks are losing a true veteran leader in Gibson but will be hoping the addition of Brunson goes some way to offsetting that, along with the continued development of RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson. One thing’s for sure, the Knicks front office is going all-in on the youth movement, and the team finally looks like it’s trending in the right direction.