UPDATE 2:08 am: Pau Gasol is a big city guy — born and raised in Barcelona — and he looks like he is headed to a big city team.
Gasol and the Chicago Bulls are nearing a deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. This is a straight up signing, not a sign-and-trade.
Two quick thoughts:
First, this is an upgrade over Carlos Boozer. Gasol is a much more versatile offensive player, and he can play the four next to Joakim Noah or the five next to Taj Gibson.
Second, this kills any chance of Carmelo Anthony coming to the Bulls, he is headed back to the Knicks. Which maybe is what he wanted all along, but the Lakers and, with this deal, Bulls have moved on.
1:11 am: Pau Gasol is a very skilled big man — has tremendous footwork and can score in the post, has a midrange game (with the occasional three), plus is a gifted passer with a high hoops IQ. He can fit in a lot of systems, just not Mike D’Antoni’s.
If you need proof team’s think he still has value, look at the two teams left likely to get him — San Antonio with Gregg Popovich and Chicago with Tom Thibodeau.
Those are the leading candidates, reports Mark Stein on Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs have emerged as the two leading contenders to land prized free-agent big man Pau Gasol, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that Gasol is giving strong consideration to signing with defending champion San Antonio — despite the Spurs’ limited financial resources with such a deep roster — in the event that the Bulls can’t strike a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Lakers for Gasol.
If that’s true, the Spurs might be feeling pretty good right now, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The Lakers can do a sign-and-trade however they can bring very little back if they want to sign Jordan Hill and Nick Young (who they have verbal agreements to sign), basically they can’t bring Carlos Boozer back (they can bring something back if they stretch out Nash). Or, the Lakers can bring a third team into the mix and make it more complex. All that to get a pick that goes with Boozer (because the Lakers want picks). As Woj said, it’s not likely. Possible, but not likely.
The Bulls could just sign Gasol.
The Thunder tried to woo Gasol but he turned them down. Phil Jackson tried to woo Gasol but he lacks the financial offer of even the Spurs (who are somewhat limited). The Lakers offered him a contract (one still on the table until Hill and Young sign) but Gasol rejected it — he wants to play for a contender (the Lakers will be fortunate to even make the playoffs in the West next season).
What is likely is that Gasol, at 32, would help either the Spurs or Bulls. These are already teams that are at (in the case of the Spurs) or near (the Bulls, if healthy) the top of their conferences and would get much better with him.
Expect a deal to be announced soon.