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Bulls, Thunder hot on the trail for Pau Gasol

Jul 2, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

Pau Gasol, Ryan Kelley, Kevin Durant Pau Gasol, Ryan Kelley, Kevin Durant

Pau Gasol might want to get paid $10 million per year, but it’s tough seeing him commanding that high a salary.

Contenders – like the Spurs and Heat – are interested, but they lack the cap space to make big offers. Teams with cap space might not want such an old player.

But Gasol might get his choice among the NBA’s top contenders. In addition to San Antonio and Miami, the Bulls and Thunder are in pursuit.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Thunder could offer Gasol the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and remain below the projected luxury-tax line, though any unlikely incentives that are met next season could push them over the line. They’d have less than $500,000 in leeway, though perhaps the actual tax line is set higher than currently projected.

Oklahoma City could also waive Hasheem Thabeet’s fully unguaranteed salary to gain extra wiggle room or replace him with a veteran like Mike Miller.

Amnestying Kendrick Perkinsprobably a non-starter anyway – alone would create no extra room for Gasol, though it would put the bi-annual exception – rather than a minimum contract – in play for Miller.

The Bulls brass flying to Los Angeles to meet with Gasol certainly puts their pursuit on another level. Time spent in the air and meeting with Gasol is time Chicago’s executives can’t be meeting with other free agents.

Presently, the Bulls can offer the same amount as the Thunder, but Chicago’s road to greater cap space – amnestying Carlos Boozer and waiving the unguaranteed contracts of Ronnie Brewer,Mike James andLouis Amundson – is much easier to traverse. Those moves would give the Bulls room to offer Gasol a deal starting up to $10,741,949.

That would likely be more than enough salary to lure Gasol, but the Bulls would essentially pay double for that roster spot. After all, they’d still have to pay Boozer, even if he doesn’t count against the cap. I’m not sure Jerry Reinsdorf would accept that just to get Gasol. Possibly, Chicago is armed only with the same non-taxpayer MLE the Thunder have at their disposal.

One advantage the Thunder have is Gasol is the best free agent linked to them thus far. They can devote all their attention to him. The Bulls, on the other hand, have clearly put Carmelo Anthony first.

Days from turning 34, Gasol might take a discount to play for a contender. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka plus multiple intriguing young role players, the Thunder are definitely among the 2015 title favorites. Upgrading from Perkins to Gasol would make them much more dangerous. Gasol would add interior scoring Oklahoma City lacks, and he defends well enough – especially relative to the slowed Perkins.

If the Thunder sign Gasol, they might even eclipse the Spurs as the 2015 favorites.

  1. andreboy1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Why is it tough to see Pau getting 10 million a year?
    I could easily see him getting a 2 or 3 year deal for 10 a year.

    • zoomy123 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:33 PM

      Gasol getting $10 M/year when he’s 36? Not happening.

      • cruzan80 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        @ zoomy123

        KG will get $12 mil next season after averaging 6.5 ppg & 6.6 rbs at 37 years of age.

        Zach Randolph is only two years younger & he’ll be collecting $16 mil per year over the next 2 seasons.

        Pau asking for $10 mil until the age of 36 after averaging 17.4 ppg & 9.7 rbs is VERY reasonable.

      • zoomy123 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:55 PM

        You know what? You’re right, lol.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        yeah, Pau is older…

        BUT HE IS NOT 36 yrs old…

        He is 33 as of today.

        He turns 34 two days after the 4th of July.

        So, he’s got TWO FULL seasons to play yet before he turns 36.

        Oh, Pau’s career PER is HIGHER than Carmelo Anthony’s too…

        Yeah, Melo is better now than Pau, but he wasn’t in like 2007/08 to to 2010/11

      • kinggw - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        He did average 17 and 10, but those numbers need to be put into context. He was the team’s number one offensive option, but Young was the team’s top scorer. Gasol is still serviceable, but he’s not worth $10M per at this stage of his career. He’s 34 in a few days and has shown signs of decline. As for KG, just because he’s overpaid, doesn’t mean whatever team signs Gasol should do the same. In his defense, KG is a better defender and provides leadership, neither one of those areas is a strong suit for Pau. Regardless the Nets are regretting that deal now.

        I don’t doubt that there is a team desperate enough to give Gasol what he’s looking for, that doesn’t mean he’s worth it.

      • cruzan80 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:14 PM

        @kinggw

        I agree with most of what you said. Big numbers on a bad team could be very deceiving (Kevin Love) but its not like we havnt seen Pau put up those #’s on great teams too.

        Personally I don’t think Pau is worth $10 mil per year until the age of 36…but it doesn’t matter. The “market” suggest that $10 mil is exactly what he should make. That’s why I gave the Z-Bo & KG examples…that’s what his agent is going to say to the possible suitors. He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t ask for $10 mil.

        sportsfan,

        Who said Pau was 36 years old…??? Again…nice try HATER.

  2. dyn0myte - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Pau’s top priority…

    Get as far away from Mike D’Antoni as possible.

    • apkyletexas - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      Too bad his top priority isn’t to play in more than 75% of his team’s games – a feat he hasn’t accomplished in three years.

    • kb2408 - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      Uhh, in case you haven’t heard the news, Mike D no longer coaches the LAKERS. As a matter of fact, he no longer has a head coaching job in the NBA.

      • mazblast - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:39 PM

        Doesn’t matter. Pau needs to be as far away from D’Antoni as possible. Mike D is bad karma for Gasol.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        And hopefully he won’t again… I wouldn’t wish that on any other fanbase… even the LAKERS rivals.

  3. k3nn3k - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Is it just safe to say that all teams are interested in all free agents? I mean the number of these stories is starting to get out of hand. Shouldn’t be a surprise Pau has interested suitors, the story happens when they actually land somewhere new.

  4. fordmandalay - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Wherever Pau winds up, I hope the Lakers eventually have some kind of appreciation ceremony for him. A great Laker.

    • mazblast - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      It’ll have to be after KoMe retires. The Great One Himself doesn’t allow recognition for anyone except KoMe.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:45 PM

        Kobe and Pau are very good friends, he has publicly lobbied to keep Pau, nice try hater.

  5. antistratfordian - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Pau and Miller would be huge for OKC. They definitely need someone who can score in the post. They’ve been looking for a shooter for a while as well. This would change my Finals prediction. Heat in 6 tough games instead of 6 easy games.

    • smoothaswilkes - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM

      Right, because the Heat have totally upgraded the tean that got utterly destroyed by San Antonio. By an average of 18 points per victory no less. And before you go all homer and say that the Heat won a game. They did. By 2 points.

      And now LeBron isn’t talking to Wade and Bosh about his future, haha. Good luck with your “predictions”, bandwagon.

    • aircorwin - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:08 AM

      Your last sentence was missing the words “blown out” between “Heat” and “in”

      • antistratfordian - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:25 AM

        no it wasn’t.

  6. sdlakerfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Hate to say this because he’s a wonderful guy – one of the best…but…

    His #’s last yr were highly inflated by being the only decent player on a bad team. The fact is his game has fallen off and he’s been injured a lot. He was decent for a month or two last yr. Makes a lot of bad plays.

    His game is very similar to Ibaka’s except Ibaka is much better at it. Highly doubt they pay him as much as Ibaka (10 mil) when he isn’t nearly the player Ibaka is. If they pay him over 7-8 mil they’ve overpaid IMO. And he might be a good fit with OKC.

    • smoothaswilkes - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      how do you call yourself a Lakers fan? Pau is similiar to Ibaka? SMH. Pau is a beast in the post and got no run with MDA as coach. So yes, he was injured but most of his time away was on purpose. And it was clear he had a lack of effort. With all that he still averaged around his career marks. Whoever signs him this season is going to get a guy that is ready to redeem himself. I still hope that’s the Lakers.

      • sdlakerfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        lol…how do i call myself a Laker fan? Have been a fan of the Lakers for over 45 yrs…that’s how.

        There is no excuse for a lack of effort – why would you defend someone who you think didn’t try to do his best?

        His two worst yrs in FG% were the last two yrs and his post game was worse than ever too. He’s “Fallen off” like I said. %48 last yr and %46.6 the yr before.

        The article was mostly about OKC and Gasol which I was focusing on. I think Ibaka’s a better player right now. Pau does shoot more from < 10 ft – 59% – 47% but Ibaka shot %53.6 last yr and is a much better defender and rim protector. And he even shoots free throws better. All I was saying is that if Ibaka is worth 10 mil then Gasol's not worth more than 7-8 mil. Such a big insult that you would question my fan loyalty?

        I hope he does redeem himself and I hope it's with the Lakers too.

      • 1historian - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:23 AM

        I love it when Laker fans argue.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Pau and Ibaka’s games are not very similar. Ibaka’s game is based on his speed, agility and length and making “big plays” (ie- blocked shots, pick and rolls, mid-range jumpers), which makes his game inconsistent and more easily exploited. Pau is more of a finesse player, who bases his offense game off superior footwork and technique, and using his considerable strength and power to score in the low post. He’s also a better help defender who can actually post up his man on defense. I think Ibaka is a fine player, but he’s not nearly as good as Pau was in his prime and may be a wash right now. Adding Pau would give the Thunder a much better offensive game.

  7. seasickcecil - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Bulls in seven over the thunder.

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      You heard it here first^

  8. kb2408 - Jul 2, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    I am glad Pau will gets chance to finish his career with a legit contender. If Chicago strikes out on Melo look for Pau to be a Bull. That would not be a bad fallback plan for the Bulls.

  9. jcrileyesq - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    anything so I don’t have to see Perkins on the court

  10. eugenesaxe1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    If he’s willing to take the MLE, Portland would like a work with him. They have two All-Stars too ya know.

  11. patfic5 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Too smart. Presti won’t touch it.

  12. lakerade - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    I love Pau, because he loves basketball. Thank you for balling so beautifully in LA, may you end up on a team that gets you more playoff games.

    And if and when the Lakers meet you in said playoff games, may Love still shine through.

  13. seasickcecil - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    Word is that the Heat have “interest” in Pau Gasol. Well I have “interest” in Olivia Wilde, Rachel McAdams and Scarlett Johannson. I think my chances are better.

  14. aircorwin - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    Pau is a better fit for the Bulls. Not only does he complement Joakim Noah in a twin-tower frontcourt, he also gets to play with one of the better point guards in the league in D.Rose. To top it all off, he gets to play in the East, so the path to the Finals is easier, not like in the loaded West.

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