With the news that Carmelo Anthony will likely re-sign with the New York Knicks on Thursday, it appears that Pau Gasol could soon decide to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for pastures new.
The San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls have all expressed interest in Gasol, along with a few other teams, including the Lakers, though the Bulls appear to be one of the front-runners to land the Spaniard due to their stature as a contender in the Eastern Conference and their ability to offer Gasol a decent salary.
According to Joe Cowley from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bulls feel “they are one of the leading candidates to land Gasol” and would be able to offer him a salary in the $7 to $9 million range, and that is without amnestying Carlos Boozer.
Previously, there have been suggestions that the Bulls would try to engage the Lakers in sign-and-trade talks for Gasol if they are able to secure a verbal agreement from the two-time NBA champion, though the deal would likely be centered around Boozer and a package of draft picks. While the Lakers would obviously welcome the picks with open arms, it is unclear whether they would be willing to take on Boozer’s $16.8 million expiring contract as doing so would limit their spending power this summer.
Joakim Noah managed to make an impression on Gasol during their face-to-face meeting last Thursday, according to the report. The Spaniard has also been assured a starting spot in Chicago if he decides to sign there.
The Thunder also met in-person with Pau last week but would need the Lakers’ cooperation to pull off a sign-and-trade in order to pay the Gasol more than $5 million per season. It is believed Gasol is seeking a salary in the $10 million per year range.
Additionally, it has been widely reported that Gasol would quickly re-sign with the Lakers if they are able to land Anthony, though if they miss out on the high-scoring forward both the Lakers and Gasol may decide that it is finally time to move on.