The Chicago Bulls won’t bring back Pau Gasol. He doesn’t want to go back either. So where to? A number of teams are going to be taking a look at the Spanish big man, but the San Antonio Spurs might be the ones with the best shot at landing him.
The Spurs, like a number of other teams, have their sights mainly set on Kevin Durant. But once that thing is over with, for better or worse, players like Gasol will get their attention, and the two-time NBA champion isn’t in that much of a rush, although we could end up being surprised.
Gasol opted out of his $7.7 million final year with the Bulls. He played two years in Chicago, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while missing 14 games in the two years, making the All-Star game twice. He played exclusively at center, as the Bulls made him the only true big man in their lineup to begin the season with before injuries paved way for lineup experimenting and in the end, missing the playoffs.
Gasol averaged 16.5 points per game in less minutes than in his first year with the Bulls. His defense took a step back, and although the Bulls were better with him than without him by 1.9 points per 100 possessions, they did send feelers out to see if anyone wanted a trade for him. Gasol doesn’t seem to fit their future vision, and whether it’s more money that he wants or simply finding a better situation for himself, he wasn’t planning on going through an offseason of trade rumors. He had enough of those in Los Angeles.
In come the Spurs, a team Marc Gasol has recommended his brother to sign with in the past. The Spurs probably will need another big man this season, and Gasol, turning 36 in less than two weeks, could be of serious help to them, although he’ll probably be fitted in a role he’s not used to: Less minutes, less touches on offense, with different responsibilities, although he’ll give the Spurs an excellent rebounder, and a very good passer from the post.
The money won’t be great from San Antonio, in any case. Even if they miss out on Durant, they’re not going to throw whatever they have left at Gasol. They’ll have plan B, and while Gasol will fit into it, he’s not going in the way LaMarcus Aldridge did a year ago. While he might still be capable of putting up nice numbers and retain a double-double average, his days of being a centerpiece on a team with serious ambitions are over. That might not be too bad of a thing.