The Bulls are in a jam.
They entered the season with hopes of winning a couple playoff series and maybe even challenging the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference title. But Chicago hasn’t gotten many breaks.
The 27-25 Bulls are seventh in the East, just one game inside playoff position. Can this team hold ground with so many players injured? Even if it can, is a healthier squad likely to win even one playoff series, let alone multiple?
The sobering answers apparently have Chicago thinking about Pau Gasol‘s future.
The Chicago Bulls are aggressively shopping All-Star forward Pau Gasol, league sources told The Vertical.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman seems determined to move him before Thursday’s trade deadline with the hope of bringing back value.
Gasol – an All-Star averaging 17.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 blocks per game – can still contribute. But he’s 35 and will almost assuredly opt out this summer. If he can’t help the Bulls achieve meaningful success this season, what use do they have for him?
Given his age and contract status, Gasol would appeal to only two types of teams:
1. Those that want to win now. The Warriors’ small-ball success limits Gasol’s destinations, because it’s difficult to see him keeping up with that high-speed style. But plenty of teams have more modest goals for this season than challenging Golden State. As a rental, Gasol could help teams looking to advance at all in the postseason or even just make it.
2. Those that want to sign him next summer but won’t have the cap space to do so. With the salary cap skyrocketing, those teams are even fewer and further between.
This will come down to how willing Chicago to accept this as a lost season. With Butler and Mirotic projected to return before the playoffs and Mike Dunleavy just getting healthy, the Bulls might not be so quick to do so. Keeping Gasol past the trade deadline could be a real option.
But if another team offers valuable assets that could help down the road, that makes it easier to throw the towel partially in. (Even without Gasol, Butler is capable of leading a team to moderate success.)
Chicago “aggressively shopping” Gasol might not so much be a desire to trade Gasol as, with the clock ticking to the deadline, a desire to determine whether there’s a satisfactory offer available for Gasol before it’s too late.