Jul. 16, 2014
What Does Gasol Bring To The Bulls' Table?
At first, when I heard the Bulls had signed Gasol, I threw a fit.
I shouted in pain, in agony.
As Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune put it, "Pau Gasol is Spanish for Carlos Boozer".
But my feelings regarding this signing warmed when I heard that Gasol was signing a 3 year $22 million contract. For those that have trouble doing the math, it works out to be $7.33 million per year on average. Better yet, the contract's third year is a player option, so potentially this could be a rent-a-Pau for the Bulls while they groom Nikola Mirotic. They recently bought-out Mirotic from the Euroleague's Real Madrid, and proceeded to sign him to a 3 year, $17 million dollar contract. Could it be a coincidence that Gasol has a three year deal?
Evaluating the trade:
The cost: Gasol will sell tickets, fans, and TV viewers. At just over $7 million, he'll be a solidmarketing investment to say the least. At the end of the deal, Gasol would be 37, and likely could be resigned for a lower amount, or dealt elsewhere to sell tickets as a well-known player. Much to like about the contract itself.
Passing: Joakim Noah is a fantastic facilitator as a big man, and Gasol will bring another big man with phenomenal vision to this team. Gasol averaged 3.4 assists last season, but what is astounding is that along with Noah, both of the two big men assisted in the top-3 highest % of team plays of all big men. The other player was... Kevin Love. The Bulls effectively add another team player on offense with greater facilitation, allowing Derrick Rose to ease back in as PG.
Scoring: Gasol will provide the offense that Boozer should've consistently provided. He averaged 4 more points than Boozer last year, and shot a higher percentage.
He can mentor Mirotic, who just came playing in Gasol's home country.
Aging Gasol could also be a disappointment. He's shot below 50% the last two years for the first time in his career. Of course, Kobe was injured, and the team didn't have many options, whereas the Bulls will grind you down as a team, so Gasol could get better looks and stave off any further regression.
Gasol has also been injured a lot recently, so it remains to be seen if he can hold up to Thibodeau's rigorous demands for his players.
Gasol is little better than Boozer at defense, so the Bulls successfully landed a Boozer2.0 at a lower cost, except Boozer will still cost the team in it's pocketbook, just not its salary cap.
Nikola would join fellow Montenegrin's and Nikola's in the NBA: Nikola Vucevic of Orlando and Nikola Pekovic of Minnesota. Fun fact, Nikola means "victorious people".
While some herald this as a solid move, you must realize that this takes away time from both Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, both young, capable players that could make a larger impact. Heck, Mirotic might even be forced to play more at SF, knocking first round draft pick Doug McDermott out for some time. When rotations get crowded, you get a lot of unhappy players that aren't getting enough playing time.
Bottom line: The Bulls could've done much worse, so stay Bullish on Chicago's hopes of fielding a championship-contending team.