Could Pau Gasol be coming to Chicago? According to veteran Bulls.com scribe, Sam Smith, the Lakers big man certainly wants to.
The Lakers front office famously tried to trade Pau this season in order to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets but David Stern and the NBA (who owned the Hornets at the time) nixed the deal. Since then, speculation has swirled about how long Gasol will be in LA and as a result, he hasn't played nearly at the level that fans had become accustomed to seeing from him.
Gasol has also had constant clashes with LA's superstar, Kobe Bryant, and the internal conflict between the two has become yet another indication that his services in Southern California may no longer be needed.
At the Laker's exit interviews last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gasol had received no assurances from the Lakers front office that he will be donning the purple and gold at the start of the 2012-2013 season.
“I wish I could have clarification but they can't give it to me right now,” Gasol told the paper. “I think management still has to talk to ownership to see what direction this thing will be going in next year.”
So what will it take to get Gasol in a Bulls uniform and will he be a good fit in Chicago?
Pau will turn 32 years old this summer and still has a whopping $38.2 million dollars owed to him over the final two years of his contract that expires at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Essentially, the only way to acquire him at this point would be via trade. But if you're the Chicago Bulls, who do you give up?
Carlos Boozer? Fans would certainly like to see that happen, but not even the Lakers – who have been known to have no qualms about spending money – would be crazy enough to take back his contract that still has three years left on it.
Luol Deng? Joakim Noah? These two have become beloved by Bulls fans not only due to their play, but because of their hearts. It would be a tough pill to swallow to see two of the toughest guys on the roster to be moved out for a player who is highly skilled but also seen as “soft” in the eyes of many basketball fans.
How would that mesh with the grittiness of Chicago in which the team has molded their identity?
Because of his skill level and championship experience, Gasol would be a great addition to the Bulls roster, especially when Derrick Rose comes back healthy. But if the asking price is too steep, the front office might be better off turning that deal down.