Just three days after announcing his participation on the Spanish National Basketball team in the upcoming 2016 Olympics, Chicago power forward Pau Gasol opted out of his contract with the Bulls to become an unrestricted free agent as expected by most pundits around the league. Gasol will by 36 next week, yet his dynamic play and increased numbers provide an interesting free agency period for the two-time NBA champion.
Despite his growing age, Gasol has not only remained at an all-star caliber level during his two-year stint with the Chicago Bulls but also increased his efficiency and overall play. The six-time NBA all-star earned career-highs in both assists and rebounds per game during the 2015-16 season, and his free agent status will definitely entice good teams around the NBA who look to elevate to the championship level.
Gasol's free agency thus far has remained relatively quiet in comparison to the other all-stars in the NBA free agency. Gasol is most likely expected to leave the Chicago organization, who is going through a major restructuring of their own after trading away 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose as well as being in the process of losing 2014 defensive player of the year Joakim Noah to free agency. Instead, the Spanish four time All-NBA selection has been solely interested in the San Antonio Spurs, where Gasol can take a very important 6th man role for the championship-chasing Spurs.
Gasol's move to the five-time NBA champions is not completely finalized, however. San Antonio also remains deeply in the hunt for superstar forward Kevin Durant, as the Western Conference heavyweight were one of three teams to get the first round of face-to-face meetings with the 2013-14 regular season MVP. While Gasol seems to be a lock for the Spurs, the capturing of KD could provide a wrench for Gasol's San Antonio relocation.
All things being the same, nonetheless, Pau Gasol seems to be fairly certain of his move to the Spurs, according to his younger brother and star center for the Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol. Marc Gasol went on to further say that, “If I had to guess – not that I've talked to him about it – would be San Antonio.”
Although Gasol played a significant role in the Bulls' offense, averaging 16.5 points per game and 4.1 assists per game, the restructuring franchise seemed subtly ready for Gasol's exit, while shifting the their focus to superstar guard Jimmy Butler and head coach Fred Hoidberg‘s true offensive technique.
With more mediocre role players gaining max contract salaries in recent free agency frenzies, the Spanish forward's contract situation interests pundits throughout the league, as many expect Gasol to take a lower salary in order to play for a championship level organization. Gasol should be expected to make his decision soon, and Gasol's addition to any good squad could prove to be one of the bigger offseason pickups this summer.
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