NBA teams are nearing the important decision of whether to sell out for the final piece to the championship puzzle or build for future success. If the Chicago Bulls choose the latter, Pau Gasol will have a new home.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports Chicago is “aggressively shopping” Gasol, who is expected to opt out of his current contract after the 2015-16 season ends. Per HoopsHype, Gasol would be due approximately $7.8 million next year.
The 35-year-old is averaging 17 points, 10.9 rebounds and two blocks this season, leading a Bulls roster that will be without superstar Jimmy Butler for a couple weeks.
However, that’s not the only reason parting with Gasol would be risky. Joakim Noah is sidelined for the remainder of the regular season. Head coach Fred Hoiberg is already relying on rookie Bobby Portis to play 20 minutes per game.
Additionally, Chicago doesn’t have another big man capable of effectively filling a major role — especially if Taj Gibson is on the move. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls are demanding a player and a first-round pick for Gibson.
As of now, Bulls haven't budged from seeking player AND first-round pick in any Taj Gibson talks.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 17, 2016
While Noah has that player option and could stick around at his new destination, Gibson is under contract through the 2016-17 campaign. His near-$9 million contract isn’t a major issue, provided an interested club has the space available right now.
One thing is clear, however: Trading either Gasol or Gibson is a sign the Bulls are waving the white flag on a championship run.
Fans won’t be thrilled about it, but Chicago isn’t built to defeat the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder in a seven-game series. Moving Gasol now allows the Bulls to add potentially impactful pieces in the future rather than lose Gasol for nothing.