Late last night, The Vertical's Chris Mannix pulled the pin on a Woj-grenade (not quite a bomb) and outlined an actual trade discussion concerning the Bulls and Pau Gasol:
The Bulls have discussed deals with multiple NBA teams on Gasol, but one discussion lingered on Wednesday, league sources told The Vertical's Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix: Gasol and Tony Snell to the Sacramento Kings for Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore and a lowering of the lottery protections on the 2016 first-round pick that Sacramento owes the Bulls.
This looks to be coming from the Kings side, as for one thing: the Kings seemingly leak everything. Mannix added that the Kings ownership desperately wants to make the playoffs ASAP. The Sacramento Bee (ht: Mike McGraw) has the Kings 'aggressively' pursuing Gasol.
What I don't really understand is why the Kings are thinking Gasol helps that much (will he start alongside DeMarcus Cousins? Does he fit into George Karl's pace-and-don't-care-whatever offense?), or why Gasol would want to play there. Ever the professional, and I mean that in that he clearly knows the game outside the game, Gasol made it let known to Woj he does not want this kind of trade.
Pau Gasol holds significant interest in signing a contract extension with the Chicago Bulls this summer and has strongly resisted the idea of a trade that would turn him into a two-month rental, league sources told The Vertical.
Pau Gasol does not have a no-trade clause, but he can certainly put out stuff like this to make it uncomfortable for the Kings to actually want him anymore. It's why I didn't even consider Sacramento in my Trade Pau Manifesto. But I think what we've learned throughout reading rumors last night is that you can't really figure what the Kings are doing, ever.
This rumor also dovetailed nicely with an adjacent one in the Bulls being interested in Ben McLemore, and KC Johnson reported earlier in the evening Wednesday that they were trying to use Tony Snell to get the former #7 pick in the draft. Since Mike Dunleavy is back, there's no reason to keep Snell anymore, so that's fine. McLemore, drafted in the same year as Snell, is an unequivocal draft bust so far in his career and has put up fairly similar numbers to Snell with an even worse defensive reputation, but:
1) He's 15 months younger
2) Maybe it's #kangz-stank that has screwed his career, and he can get into 'Bulls culture' (stop barfing and keep reading)
Kosta Koufos is in the first year of a 4 year, $33m contract (last year is a player option), so this would be the Bulls figuring that's a better price for a backup (or given their needs, maybe starting) center than what they can find in free agency after the salary cap jumps. Koufos doesn't have near the shooting and spacing-generating capabilities of Gasol, but he was once regarded as a plus defender at the position before going to Sacramento (coincidence I'm sure) and turns just 27 next week.
The pick protection stuff mentioned last in that trade offer is real messy. The Kings not only have that pick top-10 protected owed to the Bulls, but they also owe the Sixers a potential pick-swap if not transferred to the Bulls. What I can only guess is happening is that the Sixers know they'll have a worse record than the Kings, but want the potential for more lottery balls if the Kings miss the playoffs. The Bulls apparently want the pick this offseason (it is top-10 protected next season too, then if not conveyed would become 2 second-rounders). So maybe the Kings can work it out (give the Sixers something) to where they lift the protections, and tell the Sixers they'd still get the swap if they somehow are moved in the top-3 in the lottery.
Here's a lot more on that Sixers element, and that like lot of other things mentioned above involve some logical leaps that one makes by saying 'I dunno, it's the Kings'. I mean, they already gave up assets to create cap space to sign Koufos in the first place, now may need more to move him for Pau Gasol? ::shrug::, Kings.
The deal looks way more logical from the Bulls standpoint, though a lot is tied to how that Kings pick protection is adjusted in their favor. The trade would likely hurt the Bulls this season and potentially knock them out of the playoffs (hey, another lottery pick!), but helps the asset base and Koufos would eliminate at least one free agency need (though takes away $8m in cap space). It should be noted that as currently constructed this deal adds even more to their salary+tax for this season, around $4m plus a few hundred-grand owed for Gasol's 15% trade kicker. Paying even more and increasing chances they miss out on playoff revenue is decidedly un-Bulls, I'll say that much.
The trade deadline is at 2pm Central Time today.