Pau Gasol is as good a human being as you are going to find in the NBA.
The Chicago Bulls big man took to his blog recently to comment on the release of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the team, and as you would expect he was gracious to everyone involved (as translated by the Chicago Tribune).
“Coach Thibodeau, (I) want to thank your trust and support this season,” Gasol wrote. “I am sure that his departure was a very difficult decision for the organization of the Bulls, but I am convinced that they have a solid plan for the success of the franchise. We all have high expectations for the coming season and will do anything to bring the ring to Chicago. Go Bulls!”
Those high expectations will fall on Fred Hoiberg, who is expected to be given the job officially as Bulls coach on Monday.
Part of his challenge is getting the most out of Gasol and finding lineups where he works well. Gasol averaged 18.5 points a game on 49.4 percent shooting and was named to the All-Star Team last season. Though not terribly athletic anymore, he remains a skilled big man with the ball who can score back-to-the-basket or from the midrange. Defensively he’s not bad if allowed to be in the paint, but the farther he is dragged out on the court to deal with pick-and-rolls, the more trouble he gets into.
When Gasol was paired with the other starters — Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Joakim Noah — the Bulls were +4.1 per 48 minutes. Gasol was part of the Bulls four most successful lineups that played at last 100 minutes together last season. He’s got value.
But it’s up to Hoiberg to use those assets well while hiding his liabilities.