Heading into this offseason, the Wolves knew they needed leadership, defense, toughness and shooting to improve their roster.
With the signing of forward Taj Gibson that was announced Monday, the Wolves checked three out of four boxes.
Gibson, 32, has eight NBA seasons under his belt, almost all with Chicago despite a cup of coffee with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.
In his career, Gibson has averaged 9.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25.1 minutes per game. He’s a player who can start alongside Karl-Anthony Towns or come off the bench.
He’s obviously familiar with Timberwolves boss Tom Thibodeau. Gibson played under Thibodeau in Chicago from 2010-2015, making the playoffs each season. In fact, Gibson has been on a playoff team seven of his eight seasons. He’s played in 61 total playoff games, including 51 with Thibodeau.
Gibson has the ability to guard multiple positions and is solid at switching. When it comes to premier big defenders in the league, Gibson is near the top of that list.
“With Taj, we think he’s the elite defender in the league in terms of big guys,” Thibodeau said. “He can guard all five positions. He has the ability to switch . . . He can star in any role you give him.”
Not only will Gibson be able to help on the court, he should be a good lead-by-example type of player for Towns, a player who has all of the tools to be a very good defender.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Gibson said of Towns. “As far as defense, as far as offense. My job is to help him, challenge him in practice.”
Gibson also has a relationship with new Timberwolves wing Jimmy Butler. Butler and Gibson were teammates in Chicago from 2010 until last season when Gibson was traded to the Thunder.
Gibson, Butler and Teague will all go through the transition of playing in the East to playing with the West. Gibson did play 23 games with the Thunder last season, but that’s a pretty small sample size.
With the addition of Butler and Gibson, the Wolves instantly improved their perimeter and paint defenses, something that very few players can simply do on their own. Butler and Gibson are two of those players, though.