In an interesting situation getting closer to the trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls are aggressively shopping Pau Gasol, which leads them into discussions with the Sacramento Kings over Ben McLemore, the former Kansas shooting guard who is also picking up a lot of interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Right now, it seems like the Bulls offer is the one the Kings are most willing to work with. It’ll include Gasol and Tony Snell coming from Chicago for McLemore and Kostas Koufos and the lowering of lottery protections on a pick owed by Sacramento to Chicago, giving the Bulls a better chance of actually using that pick in the draft. The history of that pick dates back to 2011 when they traded Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson to the Cleveland Cavaliers that also included a future first rounder in the deal. In 2014, that pick was deal by the Cavaliers to the Bulls for Luol Deng.
But Chicago aren’t the only team trying to get McLemore, who is actively working with the Kings in trying to find a team, being unhappy with playing less minutes this season under George Karl. The Cavaliers have shown interest for the last couple of weeks and have been rumored to offering Anderson Varejao, who has an unguaranteed contract remainder that shouldn’t be too difficult to move around. The Timberwolves are also in on this, but right now seem to be left behind in terms of priority for the Kings to deal with.
McLemore is in his third NBA season, and although he’s shooting a lot better than in the past (45.1% from the field, 37.2% from beyond the arc) he’s playing 11 minutes less per game than last season (down to 21 a night), and there were questions whether the Kings were going to try and trade him during the offseason. He has one more season left on his rookie deal worth $4 million, and although he hasn’t done too poorly some of the time, it’s safe to say the Kings are disappointed with what they’ve gotten out of the 7th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
Gasol actually would like to stay in Chicago. He’ll opt out of the contract at the end of this season, declining the $7.7 million he’s supposed to make next season. Gasol wants a long term deal and a rich as possible one obviously, but hopes to do it in Chicago, which could be a problem for the Bulls, who don’t feel too keen on paying him more than they do know as he continues to decline (yet still productive). With the way this season has been going, they prefer getting something out of his expiring deal then letting it ride out, maybe miss the playoffs and then see him walk away for nothing while they don’t agree on a new contract.