Pau Gasol will ‘very likely’ decline player option

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When the Bulls signed Pau Gasol in 2014, it seemed like a marriage of convenience.

Gasol wanted to leave the Lakers, but he also wanted to play in a city with top-end performing arts, at least according to Kevin Durant. Chicago offered that and a good team.

But the Bulls already had Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson and were signing Nikola Mirotic. Still, how could they pass up Gasol for just $22,346,280 over three years? What wing or guard would they have signed instead?

Chicago got its money’s worth in year one, with Gasol starting the All-Star game and making the All-NBA second team.

Gasol’s production has slipped to 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game this season, but he’s still a bargain.

He just won’t allow the Bulls to pay him only $7,769,520 next season.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Gasol told CSNChicago.com Wednesday night after his 26-point, 19-rebound, four-block and three-assist performance against the Denver Nuggets that it’s “very likely” he’ll opt-out of his contract this summer and test the market.

“As long as I keep playing like this,” Gasol said. “I know I’ll have some options.”

No one from the Bulls seem to have given the indication they would merely let Gasol and his production walk out of the door without a fight and a source with the front office tells CSNChicago.com they’ll make a hard push to retain his services.

Opting out is probably the right financial move for Gasol. With the salary cap skyrocketing, he’s in line for a raise. And turning 36 next summer, this could be his last major contract.

He can also scour the market for a team that fits him – weighing salary, contending and city amenities however he likes. With so many teams in line for cap space, he’ll have many options.

Will one be Chicago?

As mentioned, the Bulls have plenty of big-man options. They also drafted power forward Bobby Portis this year. Noah will also be a free agent, giving Chicago flexibility to re-tool.

I’m sure the Bulls will be interested in keeping him at the right price, which was the key to landing him in the first place. The rest of this season will determine their direction and his value – and whether those points again intersect.