Pau Gasol reportedly will not re-sign with the Bulls
It looks like free agent-to-be will have a new team for the 2016-17 season
Pau Gasol declined his player option with the Chicago Bulls for next season, and his tenure with the team is all but officially over. Gasol and the Bulls know that the veteran center will not re-sign as a free agent, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell
The writing has been on the wall for a while, even though Chicago general manager Gar Forman declared after the trade deadline that Gasol was "a part of our core." That was a face-saving move, and it now seems silly.
A few thoughts:
1. Gasol turns 36 next week, so there's not much point in him returning to a team that missed the playoffs this past season and is clearly looking to establish a new identity. He wants to compete for another championship, and the Bulls want to create a new core. There shouldn't be many hard feelings here, though it would be understandable if Gasol was upset about this wasted 2015-16 season.
2. It felt like a failure in February when Chicago didn't make any major moves at the trade deadline. The team was banged-up, hovering around .500 and in the midst of a losing streak. Everything that has happened since has been predictable. It's not just that the Bulls should have traded Gasol in retrospect -- it was clear at the time, too.
3. Gasol's offensive game has aged well, so he'll have suitors. The San Antonio Spurs are such an obvious fit that his brother, Marc Gasol, guessed during the Memphis Grizzlies' season-ending media availability that he'd end up with them.
If he's willing to accept a bench role -- which would minimize his defensive deficiencies and allow him to score more efficiently against backup bigs -- then he can probably go wherever he wants.
The New York Knicks remain an interesting option despite the fact that they're far away from contention. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reported the Knicks would pursue him, and it would be unwise to dismiss them. Gasol's relationship with president Phil Jackson gives them a chance.
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