Free agent big man Pau Gasol will sign with the San Antonio Spurs this summer, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The two-year deal is worth at least $30 million, with Gasol receiving a player option after his first year with the Spurs.
With the "likely" retirement of Tim Duncan looming, it was necessary for the Spurs to pursue Gasol after missing out on Kevin Durant. The Spurs are a team defined by international stars and on-court excellence, so the fit between San Antonio and Gasol has long made sense. The Spurs have transitioned to Kawhi Leonard emerging as the new cornerstone, but if Duncan does call it a career, Gasol's presence is important.
A year ago, the Spurs made major additions to their frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. Gasol further remodels the group and gives them a more traditional post player who can anchor the paint while occasionally stepping out offensively to hit jumpers. It's a logical fit for both sides and shows that San Antonio remains a real destination for veterans trying to win it all one more time.
At age 35, Gasol continued to produce in a Chicago uniform last season despite the team's troubles. Longtime starting center Joakim Noah struggled with a transition to a bench role and the Bulls ended up missing the playoffs for the first time in years. Gasol, meanwhile, started 72 games and made his sixth career All-Star Game, though he showed clear signs of age on the defensive end.
The Spaniard averaged 16.5 points, 11 rebounds, 4.1 assists and two blocks per game, filling up the box score for the 42-40 Bulls. When he was on the court, the team was outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com, which isn't great, but stands as an improvement over the 2.7 points per 100 possessions that the Bulls were outscored without him.
That wasn't enough to get the Bulls to the playoffs, but few players on the market this summer boasted as much championship experience as Gasol. Between his NBA career and his legendary work playing internationally for Spain, Gasol is one of the most decorated basketball players in recent memory.
As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol won NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, and he also won Spanish League titles with Barcelona in 1999 and 2001. With the Spanish national team, he's won two Olympic silver medals (2008, 2012), a FIBA World Cup gold medal (2006) and three Eurobasket gold medals (2009, 2011, 2015).
Gasol was also named MVP at the 2006 FIBA World Cup, 2009 Eurobasket and 2015 Eurobasket. His 40-point, 11-rebound performance against France in the Eurobasket semifinals last year was a true thing of beauty.
So there's no doubt about Gasol's accolades or even his recent performance on the court. While he'll be 36 years old at the start of the next season, the past couple years have shown that Gasol still has more in the tank in a non-starring role. He became the 36th player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points and 10,000 rebounds last season, and doesn't seem quite done yet.