Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol is leaving the Windy City. Gasol notified the Bulls on Monday that he's declining his $7.7 million player option for the upcoming season and instead going to free agency, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Chicago Bulls didn't want to trade him in February, and with that risk and missed opportunity, they are suffering now because Pau Gasol is a free agent.
In two seasons with the Bulls, he averaged 17.6 points per game and 11.4 rebounds and made an All-Star appearance. He is the top 10 PF in the NBA and one of the best European players ever. He is 35 years old, but he still can play at the highest level.
If we assume that he wants more to play with contender (nobody will offer him a max contract), he has three very good options right now.
New York Knicks
“Phil (Jackson) and Pau are very close and the Knicks pursued him in 2014,” Begley says. “So he's among a group of bigs that they'd like to pursue.”
The Knicks president Phil Jackson has already coached Pau Gasol with the Los Angeles Lakers and they won two NBA Championships. After Derrick Rose, they can sign Gasol and become the contender in the Eastern Conference with a very strong starting lineup: Derrick Rose, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Pau Gasol.
Another benefit of pursuing Pau Gasol from the Knicks’ perspective is the idea that Pau would be the perfect mentor for Kristaps Porzingis. However, if Gasol accepts mid-level contract, the Knicks could try to sign Dwight Howard or Joakim Noah. And that should be enough to offer a max contract to Kevin Durant, I guess?
San Antonio Spurs
“There’s talk about passing of the torch with San Antonio and a hypothetical passing of the torch with Duncan,” Gasol said. “For starters, nobody knows if Tim is retiring, and he’s somebody whom I have maximum respect for. In closing, I have to admit the Spurs would be an interesting option for me. I recognize I’m a fan of the way the franchise has done things over the years and the way they play basketball on the court.”
San Antonio Spurs want to sign Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol and Mike Conley. Everyone knows that. They are the best organization in the NBA and with LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Big "But Old" Three, they still can compete on the highest level. Gregg Popovich is the mastermind and Pau Gasol could have the important role on the court.
He has skills, he knows how to play in the post and he knows how to share the ball. He is an unselfish player, and he would join a team that focuses on sharing the basketball. He is also a good pick and pop scorer, and he could have the option to pass a teammate or to take a shot.
The Spurs are maybe the best destination for him at this moment.
This is his last big contract and maybe he wants to spend 2-3 years to play alongside Marc Gasol. With Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies could have the Old School roster and one of the best frontcourt in the league.
The real problem for this destination is because Memphis Grizzlies are not among contenders anymore. Another interesting option could be if Ricky Rubio wants to continue his career in Memphis, so they could have a mini Spain team there.