The Chicago Bulls aren’t the only team going after Pau Gasol this offseason. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks are interested as well, but right now it looks like the Spanish big man, definitely not staying with the Los Angeles Lakers, has his sights set on the Midwest.
The Lakers made two offers to Gasol: A two-year deal worth $23 million and three years with $29 million. Gasol turned down both offers, but it’s not just about the money. Gasol feels that his chances of winning now reside elsewhere, and after six seasons and change with the Lakers, which include three finals and two NBA titles, it’s time for him to play somewhere else.
The reports in the Spanish media suggest that the Bulls are the closest team to signing him. They still haven’t used the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, hoping to find someone who’ll take him via trade, so in order to sign Gasol for the salary he seems to want, they’ll need a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers to make it happen. The Lakers are only interested in draft picks and have already gotten one from the Houston Rockets along with Jeremy Lin.
The Spurs seem to be in second place after the Bulls in the race for Gasol, but might not be willing to offer him too much money. Never big players in free agency, the Spurs have always been about keeping what they have and making small, minor adjustments to create a bigger whole. Gasol is quite a change from that approach, but Gasol also isn’t your everyday, average free agent just looking for a team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were hoping that having face to face with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook might help sway him in their favor, hoping to use their $6.5 million trade exception on him, but their chances of using it expired, and now their flexibility to offer him something of worth is greatly diminished. The New York Knicks are hoping someone actually takes Amare Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani, thus creating some cap space for Gasol, but that isn’t very likely to happen.
The Chicago Bulls might still hoping that Carmelo Anthony lands with them, but “settling” for Pau Gasol isn’t such a bad idea and in the grand scheme of things, when trying to consider how a team works as a whole and not just a bunch of individuals playing with the same jersey, this might even be better for them.