This resigned feeling I get over the Gasol non-acquisition is settling in like it did in the days after the Scola non-acquisition: the Bulls just didn't have what the other team wanted, or at least not at the right time.
The Bulls might have been able to match the offer by using retired forward P.J. Brown as part of a trade, along with expiring contracts like Chris Duhon and Viktor Khryapa.
Simply put, the Bulls aren't in position to take on Gasol because they already have an inflated payroll. Next season, they are committed to paying Ben Wallace $14.5 million, Kirk Hinrich $10 million and Nocioni around $7.5 million. Assuming they re-sign restricted free agents Deng and Ben Gordon to deals starting at $10 million, that makes $52 million committed to five players.
Add Gasol's $15.1 million salary, and the Bulls would be moving well beyond the current luxury-tax threshold of $67.9 million, unless they were able to unload some payroll somehow.
So, on the one hand you can see what Paxson's up against, and this non-deal can be explained away like it has been in not getting Bryant, or Scola, or anyone.
But it's also pretty damning that he can assemble a team this terrible, and simultaneously have a cap situation so inflexible.
But that's what happens when you talk about a luxury tax edict, yet sign Nocioni to a 5 year contract, and Joe Smith to a 2 year contract.
Or when you're reluctant to trade away young frontcourt talent like Thomas and Noah, yet can't find a way to get them on the court.
So right now we have a team that's supposedly gunning for the playoffs, yet can't get an upgrade.
And sure, tough to rag on Pax for a non-move, as we don't know the information. But we do know this team he has sucks, and has had 2 coaches now say they've quit. So as much as staying the course may be the best move, it's also tough seeing what he's so committed to.