Report: Pau Gasol not expected to return to the Bulls next season

There were rumors before the NBA trade deadline that the Chicago Bulls could look to move Pau Gasol to free up minutes in their crowded frontcourt. Gasol, on the downside of his career but still very effective, offered the best chance for the Bulls to snag an upgrade or two. Instead, they not only backed away from that idea, but both sides made significant noise about being interested in a long-term marriage after the season when Gasol is set to be a free agent. Gasol said he wanted to be there and reports indicated the Bulls wanted to keep him for a few years. 

What a difference six weeks make. 

In the wake of the Bulls' playoff collapse and ongoing comments from Gasol regarding his disagreements with the approach of coach Fred Hoiberg, it seems the winds have shifted. The Chicago Tribune reports that it now appears that Gasol will not return to the team this summer. 

Gasol will have options. There's been a lot of noise about him possibly joining his brother in Memphis, but it's not clear whether that's a good fit for both sides. But Gasol is a 7-footer who can shoot and is loved in the locker room. He's going to have options. The Bulls' decision to not trade Gasol when they could, however, looks like a pretty serious mistake. 

It's also curious that things deteriorated so quickly. What changed between mid-February and mid-April that we've hit this point? How did both sides alienate one another, and what was the rift over? 

Perhaps the most uncomfortable question is how much Fred Hoiberg affected this divide. Gasol hasn't out-right blasted Hoiberg at any point -- it's Pau, but he's made it clear his discontent with Hoiberg's approach vs. Tom Thibodeau's. That alone is not a major issue. It happens. But in concert with Jimmy Butler's reservations, it presents some concerns that go beyond this situation. 

We'll see where Gasol decides to go next, but it seems that his days in Chicago are nearly over. 

Pau Gasol
Are Pau Gasol's days with the Bulls numbered? (USATSI)

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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