It seems absurd now, doesn’t it? In November, the Knicks traded for young former Villanova power forward prospect Omari Spellman and brought him to training camp. They opted against re-signing...
It seems absurd now, doesn’t it?
In November, the Knicks traded for young former Villanova power forward prospect Omari Spellman and brought him to training camp. They opted against re-signing Tom Thibodeau’s trusted soldier, Taj Gibson, because of Spellman’s presence.
Spellman made the 15-man roster, but a sore knee put him on the shelf. On Jan. 7, two weeks into the season, the Knicks signed Gibson and released Spellman.
Now Gibson has turned into a key Knicks playoff engine. As their first-round series heads to Atlanta for Game 3 Friday tied at one game apiece, Gibson may be their starting center.
With resident starter Nerlens Noel seemingly hobbled by a sprained ankle, the Knicks don’t beat the Hawks on Wednesday without Gibson’s grit, chasing down loose balls, grabbing seven rebounds, picking up three steals and registering a team-high plus-23.
Gibson started the second half at center and was part of the comeback from 13 points down. Thibodeau called him “a monster in there.’’
For all the on-court contributions, the biggest thing Gibson brings Thibodeau’s team is his leadership. At halftime, teammates said, Gibson was the most vocal — telling his teammates the team has been in this situation many times before and bounced back.
Thibodeau lobbied for Gibson’s signing just as a locker-room ally, not knowing center Mitchell Robinson would go down with two major injuries, a broken hand and then a broken foot.
Gibson, a Brooklyn native, said after Game 2 that this Knicks club is maybe the tightest of all Thibodeau’s teams.
“The one thing about when you play for a Thibs team is that you’re going to put in a lot of work, you’re going to come together, you’re going to work every day as hard as you can,’’ Gibson said. “But along those trials and tribulations you become a family, you become real tight knit, you believe in each other. The way Thibs coaches he brings the whole group together, believing that it’s only us. So that’s kind of the mindset we take in. I just be myself, be the normal Taj I’ve been. It’s been working out for us. But it’s fun. We’ve got young guys, we’ve got a mixture of vets. Just pieces together, everybody works together, it’s a great atmosphere and it shows when we play.’’
RJ Barrett was officially named to the Team Canada Olympic roster. His father, Rowan, is the GM. … Before Wednesday, the last time the Knicks won a playoff game was May 16, 2013 — an 85-75 Game 5 second-round victory over Indiana, with Carmelo Anthony scoring 27.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman