CLEVELAND — Pau Gasol sat comfortable in a chair on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, looking and sounding very much like a man who knew the trade deadline would come and go without a transaction involving himself.
The Bulls’ big man has been the subject of trade rumors in the last day, with reports of the Bulls being more aggressive in recent days as the 3 p.m. Eastern Time deadline approaches.
“There’s no anxiety. It’s unfortunate when there are stories out and those stories are talked about,” Gasol said. “Then you can’t help but think that there might be some truth to them. That could affect your life. We’re talking about life-changing moments. At the same time, most of the time those things kind of vanish and turn into anything. You have to keep on and continue with your day and your life and approach your day the same way as you would any other day.”
When Gasol was asked pointedly if he believed he wouldn’t be traded, he replied: “That’s correct. But I could be wrong.”
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The juiciest rumor involving Gasol isn’t really a juicy rumor at all, one that would send him and Tony Snell to Sacramento for Ben McLemore and Kosta Koufos along with a lowering of the protection of a first-round pick the Kings owe the Bulls in the coming draft.
But as the time gets closer and closer to the deadline, one wonders if the Kings will up the ante by offering a packing involving swingman Rudy Gay, who they’ve been shopping to a few Eastern Conference teams, according to a league source.
Considering Gasol said he has an open line of communication to the front office, he feels content that this is where he’ll stay for the rest of the season before he opts-out his contract this summer to become an unrestricted free agent, and agreed with the assertion about the Bulls being in the lead to retain his services.
He said he last talked to management Wednesday, thus his feeling of sanity through the insane time.
“I’d like to. I’m happy here. I like a lot of things about my situation here,” Gasol said. “Now let’s see if we can make the basketball better. That would be ideal. If we can fix that, it’s obviously something I would want to continue to be a part of.”
Gasol has made two All-Star games in two seasons in Chicago, but he’ll likely command at least double the money he signed for in the summer of 2014 when agreeing to a three-year deal making around $7.5 million annually with a player option after year 2.
If Gasol expressed a desire to remain with the Bulls this summer to the front office, it likely lessens their desire to move him given the hole they could have at center with both he and Joakim Noah hitting the market come July.
“Everything will play a part… everything will play a part,” Gasol said. “Now I know more and I have more information to make decisions, but again we still have two months to play and I also think that will be important and critical as far as my decision going forward."
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
With the Bulls underachieving and Gasol wanting to compete for championships at this stage of his career, one wonders how high the Bulls rank on his list.
“Again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, and I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, because I want to worry about how I can help tonight, my team beat Cleveland, and put ourselves in a good position by moving up in the standings for the last 30 games we have left,” Gasol said. “So it’s hypothetical of what’s going to happen, but how these 30 games play out will give me information of how I want to … or how my decision will be influenced for sure.
"How we handle this situation and if we’re able to overcome it, get more together and united and stronger or we give up or are content with it. Because that tells a lot, it tells you a lot about the character of a team and the people you are around with."