Just a couple months ago at the All-Star break, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Pau Gasol would resign with the Chicago Bulls if/when he opts out of his current deal. Now, it’s almost certain that he won’t remain in the Windy City.

A week after it was revealed that the Bulls were “softening” their stance on retaining Gasol, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune does not expect Gasol to stay in Chicago after this season, despite the cordial sentiments they’ve expressed for each other to the media.

Johnson also notes that it seems odd that Gasol, who’s about to become the first player since Kevin Garnett in 2003-04 to average 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks in a season, would be let go, but he acknowledges that Pau’s defense and inability to perform alongside Joakim Noah have been issues.

Pau Gasol

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

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When Gasol and Noah are on the floor at the same time, the Bulls’ lack of speed was exposed by opposing offensive attacks. Pau ended up getting sizable minutes while Noah saw the bench more than he ever had in his NBA career, and now Gasol’s struggles defensively might be why the Bulls let him walk.

Pau is starting to get up there at 36 years of age, but he’s still been able to perform at a high level. Given the right system, Gasol can still excel, and he’ll receive a great deal of attention in free agency as a result.

Given Chicago’s disappointing season and failure (unless something crazy happens) to make the playoffs, it was clear that a roster shakeup was going to occur, but letting go such a big contributor is a calculated risk. Hopefully, Pau and the Bulls will find more success apart than together (cue a cheesy breakup song).