Top 5 Destinations for Pau Gasol next season

Pau GasolTop 5 Destinations for Pau Gasol next season

Pau Gasol said this to ESPN LA on February 20:

“It is what it is. I’m just glad there are a lot of teams interested in me. That’s a good sign. When a lot of teams knock on the door and ask for you, that means you’re valuable.”

Gasol is 33 years-old and has suffered various injuries in recent years, but there is no denying that he will be a sought after when he becomes a free agent on July 1.

Here are the 5 top destinations for the Big Spaniard:

New York Knicks

Why not? Knicks president Phil Jackson and Pau Gasol have made known to the public that they admire each other. They have been in constant communication before Jackson assumed his Knicks position.

Joseph Creveir of Rantsports.com speculates:

“Plugging Gasol into the current lineup of the Knicks would almost be emulating the Lakers’ championship teams for 09-10, which has already been proven to be successful.”

Gasol is a perfect fit with the Knicks, especially since Phil Jackson is there now. Tyson Chandler and Gasol would complement each other because Pau is more offensive minded and Chandler can just concentrate on defense.

This has not really garnered much attention because the Knicks are cash strapped for next season, but what if Jackson moved heaven and earth to get Pau? They would have to ship out some players and their contracts to sign Gasol. There is also the possibility of Gasol signing for the veteran’s minimum and then be signed to a make-up contract in 2015. These ideas are farfetched, but are very feasible.

The more realistic thing for the Knicks to do would be a sign and trade deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that would mean having to give up probably JR Smith and Raymond Felton to make enough salary space for Gasol. Or maybe it’s Andrea Bargnani that becomes expendable here.

And with Phil Jackson aboard, who knows what the Zen Master has in mind right now.

Phoenix Suns

Suns GM Ryan McDonough told NBA.com in mid-December:

“We’re obviously all looking for stars. And we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available.”

The Suns targeted Gasol before the trade deadline, dangling Emeka Okafor, but the Lakers wanted draft picks, and Phoenix did not want to part with any of their 2014 first rounders. The Suns know better. They only have a guaranteed $32M in salary for 2014-15, and they only have Eric Bledsoe to worry about. They might not even worry about him because they have also won with him injured this season. The point is, Phoenix has the $10M this offseason to sign Pau Gasol and upgrade their frontline. Gasol has better stats than Miles Plumlee and Alex Len combined:

  Points Rebounds Assists     FG%
Miles Plumlee  8.3  8.0   0.6   .514
Alex Len 2.2  2.4   0.1   .446
Total 10.5 10.4   0.7   .480

Pau Gasol’s season averages are 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He is shooting at a .480 clip.  Getting Gasol would mean getting an impact player. Phoenix has made a good run this season, but it seemed that they always looked like at least one good veteran away from being a contender. Pau could be that to them next season. With enough cap space and a history of targeting Pau, Phoenix could be a destination for the Spaniard.

Memphis Grizzlies

Chris Mannix of SI reported on April 5:

“Memphis would surely swap Gasol for Zach Randolph so he could play with his brother, Marc Gasol.”

The Pau Gasol rumor was also reported by Sam Amick of USA Today back on March 12:

“But a person with knowledge of the Grizzlies thinking said Randolph will be the focus of their free agency affection and that the interest they have in Pau Gasol would be secondary. The relevant question on that front, it seems, is whether Pau would be so interested in reuniting with his brother in Memphis and contending for a crown that he might be willing to play a complementary role behind Randolph and Marc Gasol while accepting a contract that would likely be below market value.”

Both teams tried to do this deal before last February’s trade deadline, but it didn’t push through. It’s obvious that Memphis has its eyes on Pau. There are three situations here:

  1. Marc Gasol is signed until 2014-15. Getting brother Pau aboard will sweeten the deal for the younger Gasol to re-sign after next season.
  2. In that SI report above, Memphis said it is focused on re-signing Z-Bo, but if he leaves, they are going for Pau.
  3. In that same report, Memphis is open to another possibility where Pau plays behind Marc and Randolph, that is if Pau is willing.

Whichever the case, Memphis has enough motives to lure Pau Gasol. And for Pau, the opportunity to play alongside his brother comes on a team where he has a good shot at winning too.

LA Lakers

Right after the trade deadline, Pau Gasol wrote this on his blog at PauGasol.com:

“Honestly, I’m not ruling out renewing my contract, I’m just open to every option. My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn’t be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage in my career.”

What are the “sporting considerations” that Gasol is talking about? Maybe it’s Mike D’Antoni and the make-up of next year’s Lakers squad? Gasol has been vocal about disliking what D’Antoni has done this season. And he’s also called his teammates out on being selfish and lacking in discipline. If a revamp happens, and it includes D’Antoni, Gasol might want to stay in LA.

This revamp would include the Lakers getting a quality lottery pick, having a healthy Kobe Bryant return and possibly even a healthy Steve Nash as well. If they re-sign Gasol, they would still be a tough contender when everyone is healthy. Also, the Lakers will still have the financial flexibility if they sign Gasol to a one-year deal. Kevin Love and the big free agents are not available until 2015, so the Lakers might want to hold on to Gasol for one more year to have a quality big and still compete next season. Or they could use him again as a trade bait as the season progresses. So staying in LA is still possible with both Gasol and the Lakers benefiting. The one big hurdle is Mike D’Antoni.

Chicago Bulls

According to Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports on April 6:

“We’ll see what happens when the time comes for Gasol to make his decision. But if money really isn’t the priority, then that would seem to eliminate Cleveland, Charlotte and Memphis from the equation. Chicago is interesting, but they already have Carlos Boozer, which would seem to be an unnecessary duplication.”

There will be no duplication because with their current salary structure, the easiest route for the Bulls would be to amnesty Boozer at $16M and sign Pau Gasol at $10M.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say Chicago finds another way to sign Pau and retain Boozer. If we look at his current season stats, there might be no duplication with Boozer. Gasol has scored better as a center:

  Minutes Points Rebounds Assists     FG %
As Power Forward 31.9   14.2   10.7   4.2  .424
As Center 31.3   18.2    9.4   3.1 .494

No, the Bulls will not replace Joakim Noah. Pau Gasol can be the best backup center in the NBA next season. Gasol is still 33, and even though he may be past his prime, he is far from being over the hill.

Again, as Chris Mannix of SI reported, an Eastern Conference executive said this:

“There are others that think that LA, that environment the past two season, that style of play has destroyed him and if he goes somewhere else, plays with a different coach, he might be rejuvenated.”

The big word here is “might.” If Gasol really wants a contender, he would have to back up Noah or give up a lot of cash to play with Noah and Boozer. Plus with a healthy Derrick Rose back, Pau Gasol might be rejuvenated in Chicago because the guys there play like hell every night. If that happens, Chicago will be one of the teams to beat next season.

No Responsesto “Top 5 Destinations for Pau Gasol next season”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Nash and Gasol Retirement: What’s next for Lakers? - Basketball Bicker - Basketball Bicker - […] Rumors of Pau Gasol departing from the Lakers were partly confirmed as Pau Gasol announced he was “unlikely” to …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>