Although it wasn't of the magnitude of the chase for LeBron James or several other top free agents, the Pau Gasol sweepstakes was highly contested, with several of the top teams in the NBA in pursuit. In the end, the Chicago Bulls won out, with Chicago and Gasol agreeing to a deal. Gasol announced his decision to go to Chicago on Twitter.
The Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers had been discussing a sign-and-trade deal for Gasol, but Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported there will not be a trade and Gasol will instead sign outright with Chicago. That likely means he agreed to a less-valuable deal than he otherwise could have.
Gasol may not be the player he once was, and he isn't likely to be named All-NBA second team again anytime soon, but the veteran is still a very effective player. The 34-year-old averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games for the Lakers last season. He wasn't as efficient offensively as he was earlier in his career, but his numbers are not far off from his career averages. Is he still a top-two player on a championship-caliber team? Probably not, but he still has more than enough game as a third or fourth piece. Gasol remains a very good passer and capable of running the offense out of the post. While his defensive legs have begun to fail him in pick-and-roll coverage, he's still a strong paint protector who averaged 1.5 blocks per game in his 60 outings last season.
In Chicago, he will add considerable post depth along with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Chicago is poised to have the league's best passing frontcourt with a one-two punch of Gasol and Noah. Noah's defense should also cover up many issues Gasol's aging body might create. Gasol's interior scoring should help as well as the Bulls build a terrific inside-out offense that can exploit defensive rotations.
The Bulls will be Gasol's third team, following long runs with the Memphis Grizzlies and Lakers. Gasol spent the last seven seasons in Los Angeles as the top option behind Kobe Bryant. The duo had plenty of success, including a pair of NBA titles. The Lakers made an effort to keep him and reportedly offered him a two-year deal worth more than $10 million per season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.