The Knicks are short-handed as Julius Randle nurses his shoulder injury, OG Anunoby battles elbow inflammation, and Isaiah Harteinstein eases back from a lower-body injury. Taj Gibson, who has served almost like a mercenary player for New York, has returned to the team once again on a 10-day contract to help round out their bench. It’s unlikely that his stay is for long as the team seeks help on the trade market before the February 8th Trade Deadline.
In his age-38 season, Gibson is expected to play a small role in the rotation, serving as depth to make sure that they don’t over-extend their frontcourt. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news of his return to Madison Square Garden.
Familiar Veteran Returns to Knicks on Short-Term Deal
Taj Gibson is more of a power forward than a center, but the Knicks have used him as both in his time with the team across four different seasons with the team. His role on the 2020-2021 Knicks made him a beloved figure in New York due to his veteran presence and genuinely strong play in a bench role. Gibson doesn’t play like a modern power forward, but his physicality and the team’s versatility allow them to mask his lack of three-point shooting when he’s on the court.
As mentioned earlier, the Knicks aren’t expected to give the 38-year-old big man a large role in their rotation, but he’ll serve as insurance in situations where they’re short-handed or just need to give someone a break. In a game like yesterday’s, where the Knicks ran the Hornets off the court and had the game in hand midway through the final quarter, the team could sub-in a guy like Gibson to reduce the strain on players like Josh Hart or Precious Achiuwa.
Leon Rose needs to have an active deadline, as while they don’t need to make a flurry of moves, they do need to add a bench scorer, especially in the absence of Julius Randle. Returning Taj Gibson doesn’t preclude them from any of the moves they may have had in mind, but it does allow them to have a deeper bench that can sustain itself in the current injury crisis the Knicks are having.