Bulls GM: Pau Gasol is a big piece of future, wasn’t shopped

Courtesy of Mark L. Baer, USA Today Sports

If anonymous sources are to be believed, the Chicago Bulls were “aggressively shopping” Pau Gasol before the NBA trade deadline. If general manager Gar Forman is telling the truth, that was never the case.

According to ESPN’s Nick Friedell, Forman said the franchise sees Gasol “as a big piece of what we’re doing today and in the future” and said Chicago didn’t shop the veteran.

Should we believe Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski — the most plugged-in NBA reporter — or a league executive who may or may not have engaged in conversations and wants to protect his and the team’s image either way? In truth, does it even matter?

Gasol is clearly a key contributor on this Bulls team. Joakim Noah is out for the season, and Nikola Mirotic remains sidelined after undergoing a second surgery. The front office would’ve been foolish to trade Gasol if it had any dreams of competing for the Eastern Conference crown.

Chicago apparently hasn’t given up on the season, though, which is abundantly clear because the club decided to keep him. Gasol has a player option this summer, according to HoopsHype.

Perhaps the Bulls were trying to find a trade partner for Gasol, who now might leave the Windy City as a free agent and give the organization nothing in return except for a couple years of decent memories. Or, Forman was actually telling the truth, so Chicago will prioritize Gasol and allow Noah to leave.

Should that be the case, though, the team’s upside with Gasol as a primary cog of the future is limited. He’s not getting any younger. Derrick Rose’s contract is a burden. Jimmy Butler can’t do it alone.

Gasol is a solid player, but he’s nothing more than a complementary piece to a championship puzzle.