The Chicago Bulls could be just what Pau Gasol needs to prolong his career, return to glory, become a winner again and perhaps win another NBA title.
Chicago was unable to land the biggest prize in NBA free agency this summer, Carmelo Anthony, but they still managed to do well for themselves thus far. In the wake of Anthonys decision to re-sign with the New York Knicks, the Bulls did not stop in their aggressive pursuit of landing a player who can make a difference.
Enter Spaniard Pau Gasol, a 13-year NBA veteran who has an exceptional basketball resume. At 7-feet and 250 pounds, Gasol has the flexibility to play both power forward and center. He also has two NBA championship rings, two silver Olympic medals (2008 and 2012), a FIBA World Championship (2006), and five EuroBasket medals (Two gold, two silver and one bronze).
Aside from his experience and accomplishments, Gasol is also one of the more efficient big men in the game. He sports career averages of 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game. The Spanish national can pretty much do it all on the floor.
He can play in the post and on the wing, he can shoot from both inside and outside, block shots when needed and command double teams. His ability to command those double teams will open up more opportunities for guys like guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah.
Pau Gasol’s durability
At the same time however, there have been some recent concerns regarding Gasols durability. His last three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers were forgettable and perilous. He finished his tenure in the purple and gold with career lows in points per game (13.7 in 2011-2012, 17.4 in 2012-2013 and 18.3 in 2013-2014).
He also struggled with many nagging and bothersome injuries which limited him to 60 games last season, 49 games in 2013 and 65 games in 2012. On top of that; with guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash struggling with injuries of their own, Gasol tried to shoulder the load on his own with miserable results.
With this declining numbers over the last three seasons many are wondering just how much the 34-year-old has left in the tank. Aside from the Bulls, Gasol was also courted by San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Houston. The Bulls were the best choice for him to make.
By coming to Chicago, Gasol will have a very solid supporting cast around him. In San Antonio, he would have been the shadow for Tim Duncan. In OKC, he would only had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (whos still healing from knee surgery) to rely on which hasnt exactly been a recipe for championship success.
With the Bulls he wont have as much pressure thanks to a returning Derrick Rose (if he stays healthy), the workhorse Joakim Noah, the evolved power forward Taj Gibson, the fundamentally sound point guard Kirk Hinrich, and a supporting cast of role players.
One thing is for sure, the Bulls will become a better team with him on the floor.