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NBA Free Agency: Bulls acquire Pau Gasol

Harry How

There are still few details on the Pau Gasol acquisition, but it is definitely happening.

I had thought I saw it was a 3-year deal, but now I can't find that so I won't assume it's for that long. Adrian Wojnarowski has it as a 'multi-year' deal starting at $6.5m if it's with cap space.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN initially reported the deal would indeed be done with cap space, and not a sign/trade, and therefore only after an Amnesty of Carlos Boozer. The deadline to waive Boozer is Wednesday, which leaves the door open to still try and work a sign/trade out (for the Bulls to say over the cap and use their exceptions) but it seems very unlikely, and even if possible may not be desirable as it would require the Bulls to give up significant assets to try and facilitate such a transaction.

As for the on-court help Gasol can provide, I'm going to paste what Ricky wrote earlier today, since that may have been lost in those heady times where we thought Carmelo Anthony was coming.


If the Bulls are just adding Gasol instead of Carmelo, not in addition to him, it will feel to many like a disappointing offseason. That shouldn't belie the fact that Pau Gasol is still one of the most productive offensive frontcourt players in the NBA.

There's no substitute for size in this league, and pairing the 7-foot Gasol with Noah, Gibson and potentially Nikola Mirotic would give the Bulls some tantalizing combination options. Gibson, Gasol and Noah could each play center next to Mirotic or play next to each other. Gasol and Noah could help save each other from excessive playing time. The upgrade from Nazr Mohammed as backup center to Pau is immense.  Just because Gasol turned 34 years old last week doesn't mean he's ineffective. Far from it.

Gasol clashed with Mike D'Antoni over the last two seasons, but he remains as skilled as any player in the league when operating out of the high post or low post. He averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. That's an impressive stat-line at any age. The problem with Gasol is two-fold: a) he's at the age where players start to drop off quickly, b) he doesn't address the Bulls' biggest weaknesses.

The Bulls need help on the wing, and if they sign Gasol, they're likely not going to get it. Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy will start at shooting guard and small forward, with Doug McDermott and Tony Snell backing them up. It sounds like a bad idea for a franchise that should be doing everything possible to alleviate a heavy offensive burden from Derrick Rose. Once again, the Bulls aren't going to have anyone else to break down a defense and create an easy look for a teammate. They'll have shooting, but the bigger problem is getting the shooters open and delivering them the ball.

Gasol's presence would also mean the Bulls will be largely operating with a two-post offense. Gasol and Noah are each gifted passers, but the idea of playing four-out with Mirotic at power forward is part of what makes next season so intriguing. Surround Rose with Dunleavy, McDermott and Mirotic, and he's going to have a lot of space to operate in the halfcourt.

At that point, defense might be an issue even with Noah or Gibson at center. Gasol himself is a bit of a liability on defense at this point, lacking the foot speed to effectively guard the pick-and-roll. Tom Thibodeau always seems to figure out that side of the ball, but it might not be easy if so many position downgrade on individual defenders at the same time.