With the news that Omer officially will not be matched, I decided it's time to look at options for the Bulls to fill the minutes that Omer used to occupy. There are a couple of major options:
First, the Bulls could play Taj Gibson a lot more minutes. I like this idea, a lot. Last year Omer only played 14.7 MPG, while Taj only played 20.3 MPG. Both of them played nearly every game (Taj 63 of 66, Omer all 66). Taj has never played more than 27 MPG (in his rookie year, prior to Omer's arrival, he played 26.9), but I think he's up for it. Taj has improved steadily every year, on both offense and defense. I think he has it in him to play at least the 27 minutes a night he played as a rookie and potentially to play as many as 35 minutes a night, which would totally replace the Omer's minutes loss. I think Taj can handle it, and I'd expect this is the most likely option and it's likely why the Bulls are trying to extend Taj now, before they put him in this big minutes role and offer him a chance to really shine.
Another option, if the Bulls only play Taj around 25 MPG, with the inevitable time missed from Joakim and/or Carlos, is to play Luol at the PF for 5-10 MPG. This requires Jimmy to step up and get more minutes and probably also requires Rip to stay healthy, but it has some potential, as Luol can run pick and pop with Kirk from the 4 spot to space the floor and open things up for Rip and Jimmy to move off the ball to find open cutting lanes and pockets for open shots. Kirk, Rip, Jimmy, Luol, and Joakim or Taj is a potentially pretty stingy defensive team than can manufacture points at an okay rate, even though it'll probably be pretty ugly. The trouble with this option is that it moves Luol from his natural SF slot and might mean he plays even more than he already does. It'll come down to how much Thibs trusts Jimmy B and how healthy Luol is. It also assumes Luol isn't sidelined to start the year with his busted wrist, which is a hopeful assumption to be sure.
The other, less attractive options are playing Vlad Rad at the stretch 4 for 5-8 minutes a night with one of the other 3 actual, functioning big men rotating at the center spot OR playing Nazr Mohammed for actual minutes. Neither of those sound particularly appetizing, so I'm going to say: PLAY TAJ FREAKING GIBSON MORE MINUTES THIBS.