In case you missed it, Pau Gasol will no longer play for the Chicago Bulls as he declined his player option worth $7.7 million to become a free agent. However, does he still have options to play elsewhere? Of course.
Seeing Gasol leave Chicago was a given since they’re about to enter a retool or rebuild mode. With the acquisition of Robin Lopez, there’s no reason for him to go back especially since Derrick Rose was traded to the Knicks and Joakim Noah, who is also a free agent, appears to be headed somewhere that is not Chicago.
Now you’re probably thinking what teams are going to want Gasol at age 35, turning 36 on July 6th so let’s take a look at what fits best for the big guy.
- New York Knicks
With the acquisition of Derrick Rose, the Knicks seem to look good on paper right now. They seem focused on going after Kevin Durant since Phil Jackson sold Rose that they we’re going to do everything possible to sign him and currently, Carmelo Anthony has been selling Durant on going to New York. If they don’t acquire Durant’s services, they still need a big man and there’s a few interesting choices like Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, and Hassan Whiteside aside from Gasol. Rose has expressed interest in playing with Noah again, but Gasol isn’t a bad choice either. Gasol and Jackson have history together from their time with the Lakers and Jackson even pursued Gasol back in 2014 before signing with the Bulls. Maybe now is the time for Gasol to reunite with his former coach.
2. San Antonio Spurs
This is a long shot just because Tim Duncan hasn’t decided on whether he’s going to retire or not. Gasol has expressed his respect for Duncan, Pop, and what the franchise has done over the years. It’ll be difficult to replace a guy like Tim Duncan, but you can make an exception with Gasol. He’s coming off a great season in Chicago and it would be crazy for San Antonio not to engage some interest for him.
3. Miami Heat
With Hassan Whiteside becoming a free agent and his recent comments regarding loyalty, the Miami Heat are not sure if he’ll return. They can’t sit around and wait forever for him. Miami is still a good team, but they need to be sure that Chris Bosh stays healthy regarding his blood clot issues that forced him to miss this year’s playoffs. If they were to sign Gasol, they wouldn’t even miss Whiteside except for his age because Gasol put up near identical numbers to his last season. Whiteside averaged averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and a league-leading 3.7 blocks while Gasol averaged 16.5 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per game last season.
There can also be some more teams Gasol is interested in or teams that have interest in him because they need a veteran presence on their team and Gasol fits that criteria for sure, but that’s not what he’s looking for. The Grizzlies, Rockets, and Trail Blazers are teams that could use him to help contend, but will that be enough to win it all? At his age, Gasol is win now mode and desperately wants to play for a championship ready team rather than help team rebuild. If he wanted to rebuild with a team, he wouldn’t have declined his player option with the Bulls. The three teams mentioned above are the best fits for Gasol, in my opinion, so we’ll see what goes down when free agency starts on July 1st.