One player receiving interest from a long list of teams right now is Pau Gasol, who still has the Chicago Bulls on his list of suitors, while the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors seem like the stronger contenders for the Spanish big man.
Gasol, who opted out of making $7.7 million next season in Chicago, is probably looking at $20 million a season, maybe a bit less, from the way things look. At some point, teams are going to run out of cap space and the offers people regard as crazy (they’re simply following the rules of NBA economics, which make things very lucrative for the middle-tier of players due to the cap raise), but Gasol is probably waiting for Kevin Durant to make his choice.
Durant is likely to make it on July 4, or maybe in the hours leading up to it. Either way, despite having a down year statistically (or maybe just another step in his decline), Gasol is very much in demand. He averaged 16.5 points and 11 rebounds per game while averaging 4.1 assists per game. His defense has seriously declined, which is no surprise for the 36-year old, and he had his fourth consecutive season of shooting under 50% from the field. But Gasol is a big man who can score from more than just around the rim, and can work the offense from the post or from the top of the key, which remains something very few big men can do.
The Spurs would love to add him on board, but his price might be a bit too much for them, and adding so many old players in one place isn’t good once April and May come around. The Timberwolves and Blazers are probably the strongest contenders for him. The Blazers, allegedly, have already handed him a two-year, $40 million deal to sign. Minnesota need talent pretty much everywhere, and a little bit of experience too.
At some point, Gasol is going to run out of mojo and play like someone with so many years in the NBA and international basketball on his body is expected to. But for now, without any injuries hampering his style, he remains a double double machine and a positive influence on the floor and in the locker room, which makes him a valuable commodity. If it means paying him what not too long ago was max money to get the final year or two he has of high level basketball, so be it. And while the Bulls seemed out of the picture a few days ago, turns out that decimating the roster changes their opinion, and keeping him isn’t such a bad idea after all.