Updates from Sunday, July 13
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports on the terms of Pau Gasol's deal with the Chicago Bulls:
Free agent forward Pau Gasol is finalizing a three-year, $22M-plus contract with the Chicago Bulls, league sources told Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 14, 2014
Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls reached an agreement, taking one of the most coveted free agents off the market.
Gasol announced his decision on Twitter:
It hasn't been easy. After meditating it a lot I've chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) July 12, 2014
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune provides a statement from Gasol:
In Blog post on his website, Gasol re Bulls: "I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be part of a franchise (with) so (much) tradition— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 12, 2014
More Gasol: "I am very pleased to play on a team with many aspirations, with such passionate fans."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 12, 2014
Johnson also passes along his thoughts on the move:
Bulls beat writers didn't lose in free agency. Pau Gasol one of the all-time good guys.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 12, 2014
Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears reports on a potential cap-clearing move the Bulls are looking to make in order to make room:
The Bulls are expected to trade center Greg Smith to Mavericks as early as Monday to help clear salary, sources said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 13, 2014
Johnson had more:
Confirming Bulls are in advanced talks to trade Greg Smith and his $948,163 salary to Mavericks for cap space. @SpearsNBAYahoo first.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 13, 2014
The Lakers Tweeted their appreciation for all Gasol had done for the franchise:
Entering his age-34 season, this offseason likely marked Gasol's final opportunity to score a major free-agent deal after a successful run with the Los Angeles Lakers that spanned six-plus years. And with the Lakers in flux, the veteran big man decided to start a new chapter of his career.
Los Angeles appeared in three straight NBA finals after acquiring Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2007-08 season. They won the latter two of those championships before beginning a steady decline that culminated with a 27-55 record this past season.
Will Gasol be a good free-agent signing?
Despite the lack of team success, Gasol actually enjoyed a bounce-back campaign. He returned close to his career averages with 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. It was exactly the type of season he needed before hitting free agency after suffering a drop-off in 2012-13.
It showed he could still be a major force on the interior. Add in the lack of reliable post players around the league, and Gasol was one of the top options available this summer.
Dave McMenamin of the Los Angeles Times indicates the Lakers pushed hard to retain Gasol:
Prior to today, LAL offered Pau Gasol two deals: 2 years, $23 mill and 3 years, $29 mill per league source. He turned down both offers.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 12, 2014
There were questions about his health after missing several games down the stretch due to vertigo. He eliminated those concerns in a post on his official site, which was translated by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
"I feel great. My vertigo problems are finally over. I'm not physically frustrated or mentally tired," he said. "I can't remember the last vacation when I was feeling this good."
Now that he's found a new team and has proclaimed himself healthy, the biggest question mark surrounds how effective Gasol can be and for how long.
Gasol showed last season that he can still be a valuable contributor. Perhaps he can't be counted on for 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, but he's a solid second or third scorer who still protects the rim and helps clean up the glass.
Clearly Carmelo Anthony was the target most Bulls fans were hoping for in free agency, but Gasol ensures the team will remain contenders in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
Ultimately, his arrival will certainly raise expectations even further for next season. If he does end up playing up to the same standards he set during his first few seasons with the Lakers, it will turn out to be a very valuable signing.
He probably only has a couple top-end seasons left. That said, in a league where any type of consistent production in the frontcourt is an advantage, he's certainly worth the investment.