CHICAGO (AP) — Taj Gibson agreed to a four-year, $38 million contract extension with the Chicago Bulls, just before the NBA deadline Wednesday night.
Gibson broke the news following a season-opening win over Sacramento, after emerging from a meeting with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman. The new deal kicks in after the season, and it locks in one of Chicago's key players for the long term.
"Just having Gar and Pax come in there and say, 'We want you here for a long time,' brought tears to my eyes because I said I wanted to be here for a long time," Gibson said. "I want to retire here. It was great."
It was a stunning reversal considering Gibson said before the game that he was turning down Chicago's offer and didn't expect an agreement.
The sides had until 10:59 p.m. to reach a deal, and they worked it out just in time. Otherwise, Gibson would have become a restricted free agent after the season, meaning the Bulls would have had the right to match any offer he received.
So what changed? Paxson and Forman stressing after the game just how much they wanted to get the deal done helped. Having some time to think about it did, too.
"I told them I don't want to be a selfish player, I just want to get what's fair," Gibson said. "I looked at the numbers. It's a lot of money. I can't really turn down that much money, especially for the security. You never know what can happen through the year."
Derrick Rose tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the playoffs last season also weighed on Gibson's mind.
"Knowing that at any given moment I can pull a groin, I can hurt my knee," Gibson said. "Having that security and knowing that's going to be there no matter what, that was the main thing. I didn't want to go out there and basically just get hurt."
A first-round pick out of Southern California in 2009, Gibson is entering his fourth season. He has averaged 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in his career.
"Taj has proven to be a key member of our team and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement with him," Forman said in a statement. "We look forward to him (continuing) to develop his game and we are happy that Taj will be a Bull long term."