Pau Gasol tweets he has chosen to play for Bulls. Only question is will it be sign-and-trade or not.

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We know how this movie ends — the Chicago Bulls are going to have the best passing front line in the NBA next season with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

The only question is what road everyone takes to get there.

Pau Gasol took to twitter to make his announcement on Saturday.

This has been expected for about 24 hours — the Bulls offer the best combination of being able to pay Gasol more than mid-level exception money as well as being a contending team. Teams like the Spurs and Thunder both came after Gasol hard but couldn’t offer as much money. Plus the Bulls being in a major metropolitan area doesn’t hurt with the cultured, Barcelona-raised Gasol.

The only question was whether this move would come through a sign-and-trade or a straight up signing after the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports explains:

The Bulls and Lakers have been working on a sign-and-trade package to bring Gasol to the Bulls on a multiyear contract that starts at approximately $10 million a year, league sources told Yahoo Sports. If a sign-and-trade doesn’t come together, the Bulls will sign Gasol to a multiyear deal with a salary starting in the $6.5 million-a-year range, sources said.

The Lakers have not formalized the signings of Nick Young or Jordan Hill to leave the cap space open to make a trade, but no deal has yet come together.

The Bulls don’t want to amnesty Boozer — they still have to pay him, he’s just not on the official books — so they have tried to work out a trade but the Lakers but they have struggled to come to a deal.

The Bulls would need to amnesty Boozer to sign both Gasol and heralded European star Nikola Mirotic (one of the best players overseas).

One way or another, it will get done. Gasol is not Carmelo Anthony — the guy a lot of Bulls fans held out hope for — but he is an upgrade over Carlos Boozer. Gasol is a smart player who can be the fulcrum of the offense from the elbow or can score in the post. He’s a gifted passer and has a midrange jumper. He’s not a great defender, but he’s better than Boozer. Don’t let how Mike D’Antoni misused him fool you, he’s getting older but is still a quality big man, and he averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a game last season. Bottom line is he’s an upgrade in Chicago.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.