Report: Chicago Bulls “softening” on statement they will bring back Pau Gasol

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Paul Gasol is going to be a free agent this summer.

He is going to opt out of his deal with Chicago that would pay him $7.8 million next season because the man wants to get paid. Even at age 36 (which he will be by next season), he is going to get more money and a longer-term deal in a summer market flooded with cash once the salary cap spikes north of $90 million. Gasol has value, the All-Star is averaging 16.5 points and 11 rebounds a game, he has a solid true shooting percentage (52.6 percent, right about the league average), and he’s a gifted passer.

Earlier this season Bulls GM said that they planned to re-sign Gasol this summer, but that stance may be changing reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune in an article mostly about the Bulls not trading Jimmy Butler (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Sources said the Bulls are softening on the public stance general manager Gar Forman issued at the trade deadline that Gasol “is part of the core,” not to mention Gasol is open-minded to entertaining rival offers.

A few thoughts here.

First, Pau Gasol is going to get overpaid this summer by some team that strikes out on its first choices. More than just money, the question is how long do teams want to pay a 36-year-old, even one who is still productive?

Second, the Bulls should let Gasol go. If they are going to build around Jimmy Butler in a system that fits Fred Hoiberg’s preferred offensive style, Gasol does not mesh with that future. Well, unless he wants to come off the bench as a scoring big (he does not). The Bulls should look elsewhere for help up front, particularly with someone who can defend. I’d say they should try to bring back Joakim Noah at a fair price, but that relationship may be damaged after Hoiberg tried to use him as a sixth man so Gasol could start.

Third, this should be just one step in a major roster overhaul in Chicago. One that should include serious consideration of trading Derrick Rose.