The Pau Gasol era of the Chicago Bulls has come to an end.
Per a Woj report, Gasol will be moving on to the San Antonio Spurs to the tune of a two year/$30 million deal with a player option for the second season. The news comes on the heels of not only a monumental free agency jump by former MVP Kevin Durant, but also multiple reports that Tim Duncan is leaning towards retirement.
From the perspective of the Spurs, I'm not quite sure how much this will help them. Clearly, their biggest problem when it came to competing with the Warriors and Thunder was the aging of their better players not named Kawhi Leonard. Now that the Warriors have Durant, signing a center that turns thirty-six years old on Wednesday only aggrevates that problem rather than alleviateing it. Furthermore, Bulls fans are all quite familiar with Gasol's inability to consistently protect the rim and refusal to box out, so this signing does nothing to fill in those gaps at the five for the Spurs assuming Duncan finally hangs it up.
Conversely, from the Bulls' perspective, fans paying attention saw this coming a long time ago. Gasol vastly outplayed the value contract he signed during the 2014 offseason, one that he agreed to with the intent that he'd be playing for a contender coached by Tom Thibodeau. With rookie coach Fred Hoiberg coming in to replace Thibs this past season, the Bulls missing the playoffs, and numerous high-profile names being left off of next season's roster for a variety of reasons; the writing was on the wall for Gasol to seek a pay-day elsewhere. I have no idea what San Antonio's opera-scene is like, but I know first-hand that their river walk is quite lovely.
Despite the lack of team success, Gasol ends his two-year run with the Bulls with perhaps the best statistical stretch of his career. He averaged 17.6 points per game on 48% shooting from the field, 11.4 rebounds per game (the best average on any team for his career), and 3.4 assists per game. He made all-star appearances in both of his seasons in Chicago, including getting a start against his brother Marc in the 2015 NBA All-Star game. I had the privilege of being in attendance for the greatest game of his career on January 10th, 2015 in which he recorded 46 points and 18 rebounds against a helpless Milwaukee Bucks defense ill-equipped to guard the blessed-with-finesse seven footer.
BaB will have more soon on Gasol's career with the Bulls in retrospect. Enjoy your independence day, Chicago.