Even though he’s not on the top of the list in free agency for most teams looking to make a big impact, Pau Gasol has plenty of interest around the league. It seems like the Oklahoma City Thunder are making the strongest play to try and sign him, although the Chicago Bulls, who have been interested in Gasol for years, are also worth consideration.
There have been other teams mentioned in connection with Gasol, first and foremost the Los Angeles Lakers, where he has been playing since 2008. The Memphis Grizzlies with the option of having brothers manning their frontcourt, the New York Knicks who can’t offer anything but a mid level exception and a low one at that and the Miami Heat, who are probably more concerned at the moment on whether or not LeBron James is going to stick around or leave like he did to the Cavs in 2010.
The Thunder are using the combo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as recruiters for Gasol, hoping that even though they can’t offer him more than $5 million a season due to their cap and tax situation, he’ll be willing to take that kind of pay cut (made $19 million last season) in order to put himself in an excellent position to contend for a championship in the tough Western conference, which hasn’t been kind to the Lakers over the last four years.
The San Antonio Spurs are another team that doesn’t really have the cap space or the desire to blow a lot of money through free agency. However, they’re not shying away from the race, although they’re probably going to get looked at once Gasol finishes with the Thunder and the Chicago Bulls, who might be taking their aggressiveness in pursuing Gasol, who has been linked with the Bulls for a number of years.
Even during his days with the Grizzlies there was talk about the Bulls making a trade for Gasol. Over the last couple of seasons, with the Lakers always (allegedly) on the verge of putting Gasol on the trading block, the Bulls have always been connected to that deal. Maybe now, as their hopes of signing Carmelo Anthony are waning, believing that it won’t be possible for them to get him away from the New York Knicks.
Gasol has been in the NBA for over a decade, an All-Star big man for most of these years. His numbers last season – 19.9 points, 11.1 rebounds per game, suggest he can still play at that level, especially in the Eastern conference, although the system of Mike D’Antoni helped out statistics with everyone, even Gasol who wasn’t exactly on good terms with D’Antoni. Like other big name players in this draft, it’s going to be about deciding between money and title chances for Gasol, and which team offers the best combination of it.