Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson said Monday he’s confident Chicago can still compete—and win—in the Eastern Conference, even without star point guard Derrick Rose. Gibson, who averaged 8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks last season, is entering the fourth and final year of his contract, will look to improve his game and play a bigger role during Rose’s absence. Via “‘We still did good even when we didn’t have Derrick (last season),’ said Gibson, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago White Sox’s game on Monday. ‘We beat the Heat without Derrick. Our mindset hasn’t changed. It’s about staying focused and taking one game at a time. We understand it’s going to be up and down at the beginning of the season. We can’t look forward to the end. We got to look forward to one game at a time and playing to our strengths and just listening to coach (Tom Thibodeau). I know it’s going to be a long season, but I’m really optimistic about what’s going to happen. Thibs already told me he wants my role to change, be more of a leader now,’ Gibson said. ‘I worked out with him a lot during the summer. I worked out with him before the (Team) USA camp. He just wanted me to work out this whole year, build confidence and get better. He thinks I can do a lot more on and off the court. I’m ready to take that next step.'”