The Chicago Bulls' new reserve players are struggling this season, a fact that hasn't been lost on power forward Taj Gibson. The lone holdover from last year's beloved "Bench Mob" unit acknowledged the struggles of his fellow bench players recently, as ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell writes.
Speaking before the team's practice on Tuesday, Gibson admitted that the team is missing the presence of center Omer Asik, who signed with Houston last summer, but the team isn't looking for excuses:
In a way you could say that (Asik's absence is the reason), but that's what happens in the NBA. Players shift around and move different places. We just have to adapt, we just have to move on and pick it up a notch... The whole second unit's a different team other than myself, so guys are going to have to bring it because I know in Chicago that it's a high standard and our second unit is not cutting it right now and we have to improve on that.
Last season, Gibson was part of a bench unit with Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III that proved to be dominant, particularly on the defensive end. With Asik and Gibson dominating the middle and Brewer making his presence felt on the perimeter, few second units could keep up when Chicago went to its bench.
But financial realities hit the Bulls' roster hard over the offseason, as five of those players moved on to new teams. Other than Gibson, who signed a contract extension right before the beginning of the season, Chicago overhauled its entire bench.
And as Gibson admitted on Tuesday, newcomers Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and first round pick Marquis Teague have generally underwhelmed so far. Robinson has flashed some efficient scoring skill -- his PER is the second-highest on the team so far -- but the rest of team has struggled badly.
Given the lack of financial flexibility Chicago has due to being limited by a hard salary cap, Gibson's statement that the players currently on the roster need to adapt and improve takes on extra importance. With only the veteran's minimum to offer any free agent, it seems unlikely that a big new addition will arrive in Chicago any time soon.