If you’ve been following the Bulls closely all season, this report isn’t a surprise so much as a confirmation.
While both sides are saying the polite things about wanting to talk to each other this summer, there is little chance that Pau Gasol will be back with the Chicago Bulls next season. Gasol can opt out of the last year of his contract and is expected to do just that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has the latest report.
The Gasol issue was mostly about fit, specifically on the defensive end. Joakim Noah, for all his flaws and injuries, could still defend fairly well, but he was slow. He didn’t pair well with Gasol, and since Fred Hoiberg was going to start Gasol no matter what (so it seemed) that put Noah on the bench. Where he was unhappy — he also is likely gone as a free agent. A starting lineup of Nikola Mirotic and Noah, with Taj Gibson and Gasol off the bench, might have been the call. However, getting everyone to agree to that would have been the real miracle, and injuries would have made it difficult.
Even at age 36 (which he will be next season) there will be suitors for Gasol because he can put up numbers (although he might be better suited for a sixth man role at this point, something he doesn’t want).
Expect a radically different Bulls roster next season built around Jimmy Butler. That may mean Derrick Rose is on his way out as well, if the Bulls can find the right trade. Either way, expect major shakeups.