The Chicago Bulls will meet in L.A. with Pau Gasol who's only interested in playing for a team that will contend for a championship. It's also most likely that only teams contending for a championship are interested in Pau Gasol, so that will work out for everyone.
The Chicago Bulls are hoping to be one of those teams, and if Derrick Rose comes back healthy, they will be as long as they are able to add a couple of pieces with the assets they have available. However, even the worst case off-season of just bringing in Mirotic and McDermott while perhaps bringing back Augustin still likely leaves them as contenders if Derrick Rose is healthy and M&M aren't busts.
There's some thought that the Bulls might find a way to trade Carlos Boozer for cap room as part of a three team deal. There are teams out there which may struggle to make it to the minimum salary threshold, and for those teams, adding Boozer isn't particularly onerous as they'd need to pay out the extra money anyway.
If so, a three team sign and trade with Boozer going somewhere other than New York, the Bulls getting Melo, Melo getting paid, and NY and the third team each getting some assets remains a possibility. In that scenario, the Bulls would have the MLE available and might choose to bring in Gasol rather than bringing over Mirotic who could simply come next year with no buy out.
That scenario lands the Bulls probably the best case team they could get this summer. However, it's a fringe hope because the Bulls will need to likely double down on assets used in order to get someone to take Boozer and then also find something to pay NY. It's also possible that the Knicks might agree to take Boozer if the Bulls take back J.R. Smith so they can clear salary off their books faster.
The Bulls have informed Boozer he'll be amnestied, but that doesn't mean they can't take it back and move him in a S&T instead. They could be using the media to leverage NY into a S&T if Melo wants out by threatening to pay Melo outright.
In any case, there are definitely a couple scenarios where Melo comes that Gasol is in play, even if they aren't overwhelmingly likely.
What might be more interesting are the scenarios where Melo isn't in play. First, its important to realize the Bulls are not a young team. Derrick Rose isn't that old in years, but with two knee surgeries, he's certainly old in terms of likely quality NBA years left. Noah and Gibson both have about two to three high quality years, and so the Bulls are looking at possibly a three year window before requiring to tear this thing down completely.
With that in mind, my plan B for this off-season is to bring in Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol. Two old guys who are absolutely in win now mode, both likely are going to play limited minutes, both looking for a team that's ready to contend for a title but still offer them a major role in the action. Chicago can deliver on those things.
If you can sign the pair of them to two year deals for 10 million per year total and save a little cap room to throw D.J. Augustin a deal, and bring back Hinrich for the minimum, the Bulls could look like this:
That's a team that's possibly going 11 deep with multiple quality shooters, great big men, great passing, and lots of scorers. It addresses all of the problems the Bulls had last year against Washington, and while it's completely unsexy to sign two guys who are near the end of their careers and could both potentially fall off the NBA cliff in terms of performance, I'd rather see that then see them max out Hayward, Stephenson, or one of the other rather pedestrian younger players.
That said, if Carmelo Anthony goes to the Lakers, Pau Gasol is rumored to resign there. Melo is meeting with the Lakers today after a six hour meeting with the Rockets yesterday and a two hour meeting with the Mavericks.
Wow, Kyle Lowry only grabs 48 million?
The Toronto Raptors got a relative steal in this free agency market locking Kyle Lowry into a four year 48 million dollar deal. Given the amount of teams with cap space and lack of quality players available I thought Lowry could have landed the max with someone. Hell, Hayward looks like he'll get a max offer sheet from Cleveland, and I'd take Lowry first.
My nightmare off-season was that somehow the Miami Heat would find a way to get Gortat and Lowry filling in both of their biggest needs, but both players signed elsewhere. Would not have predicted that Gortat would be the bigger earner of the two. Maybe Lowry simply didn't receive that much interest in terms of FA calls due to his position as PG is a pretty rich position in the NBA right now.
However, he would have been viewed as the second best UFA by my book after Melo (assuming we discount the big three who aren't even taking calls from other teams).
In other FA news..
Ben Gordon signed what is effectively a one year 4.5 million dollar deal with a team option on a second year with the Orlando Magic. Plenty of people think that's crazy, but I'd say it's one of the more reasonable signings this summer. Maybe the Magic paid him an extra million to get him to do a one year deal, but I would have loved to have Gordon back on a cheap deal, and I'm sure other teams would as well.
What makes the deal somewhat laughably stupid for Orlando is that they traded Aaron Afflalo away for cap room, Fournier, and the 54th pick in the draft. They then used the majority of that cap room to get Ben Gordon. Afflalo was going to opt out of his deal after this year, why not just keep him given your return absolutely sucked balls?
Oh, I know why, because you don't actually want to win basketball games this year. At least, that's the only reason I can think of.
The Pacers agreed to a four year 18 million dollar deal with C.J. Miles and also brought in a 6'10 Euro shooter Damjan Rudez.
The Spurs resigned Patty Mills to a three year 12 million dollar deal despite the fact he'll require shoulder surgery and miss the next seven months which is still a pretty good deal for the Spurs who probably don't really care so much that he'll miss the majority of the regular season.
The Mills signing also likely sets the ceiling on the market for D.J. Augustin. It seems unlikely that Augustin will return to Chicago as the Bulls will likely only have the room exception or Bi-Annual exception to offer him, but if he can't find something better it'd be great to see him back.
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