Bulls

Gasol will 'very likely' opt out of Bulls contract this summer, test free agency

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Gasol will 'very likely' opt out of Bulls contract this summer, test free agency

Pau Gasol came to the Bulls on a discount of sorts two summers ago, with some teams wondering how much top-flight game he had left in his veteran body.

But after a stellar first year in Chicago and his ramping it up recently after a busy summer, there appears to be very little doubt he can still produce at a high level.

Gasol told CSNChicago.com Wednesday night after his 26-point, 19-rebound, four-block and three-assist performance against the Denver Nuggets that it’s “very likely” he’ll opt-out of his contract this summer and test the market.

“As long as I keep playing like this,” Gasol said. “I know I’ll have some options.”

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Gasol, 35, signed a three-year, $22.3 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 2014, spurning the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and to a lesser degree, the Miami Heat.

A two-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol is a sure-fire Hall of Famer due to his exploits both in the NBA and internationally.

Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets will be career game No. 1,000 for Gasol and although he appeared to take things easy at the start of training camp and the preseason due to a busy summer with the Spanish National Team, his production has climbed in recent games.

“I feel pretty good right now physically,” Gasol said in the locker room after Wednesday's game. “I had to take it easier in the preseason so I started a little slower this season than I would’ve liked but because of how I played this summer I had no choice. I had to refuel somehow so I could have enough gas to make it through the entire season and still get to the end with enough and push through so I can play well in the playoffs.”

With the salary cap rising again this summer and assuming Gasol stays in relative good health, it makes sense for him to again hit free agency for a contract with long-term security and more annual money. By today’s financial standards, Gasol is underpaid for his production, ranking 23rd amongst power forwards in the NBA, according to spotrac.com.

If he were to be listed as a center, which he plays when Nikola Mirotic or Taj Gibson is on the floor, his $7.4 million average would rank 20th.

It appears both Gasol and Joakim Noah will be free agents this summer, leaving the Bulls with some choices in the frontline as they’ll try to fit the best pieces around Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system. No one from the Bulls seem to have given the indication they would merely let Gasol and his production walk out of the door without a fight and a source with the front office tells CSNChicago.com they'll make a hard push to retain his services.

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Hoiberg was certainly appreciative of Gasol’s effort Wednesday night, and his presence as a whole.

“I know his teammates don’t underestimate him and that’s the important thing with Pau,” Hoiberg said. “He got us going with the start and finished the game with a couple free throws.”

Gasol is averaging 14.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, the last two being above his career averages. In Hoiberg’s system, his role has differed a bit than the one he played last year where he was featured more, as he averaged 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in Tom Thibodeau’s slow-down system.

With Hoiberg wanting to play faster, a style more tailored to the wings and point guards, Gasol hasn’t been exactly marginalized but the team seems to rely on him whenever they need a big bucket.

And more times than not, he’s delivered — on both ends of the floor. He had big defensive stands against the Spurs and Nuggets, as well as thwarting LeBron James’ last-second drive on Opening Night.

“Just trying to play as well as I can for the position I’m in now,” Gasol said. “I understand things are a little different now, but as long as we win and we’re a better team, we all sacrifice a little to do the things the coaching staff wants us to do.”

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls notch 1st win in 2019

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls notch 1st win in 2019

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast; Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine recap the Bulls 104-88 win over Cleveland on Monday and discuss what this win means for the team and also the current state of the 2018-19 Chicago Bulls.

1:32 - Does beating the worst team in the league mean anything for the Bulls?

4:57 - Breaking down the wins in the 2018-19 Chicago Bulls season

8:50 - Are the Bulls willing to move on from Kris Dunn?

12:14 - On Wayne Selden Jr. getting more minutes than Jabari Parker

13:02 - Are the Outsiders "Night People?"

14:58 - Has it been better to be a Cavaliers fan or Bulls fan over the last 20 years?

21:09 - Three Potential Coaches who could replace Jim Boylen next season

23:45 - What if Stacey and Neil called Derrick Rose's game winner vs. Suns?

25:31 - The Outsiders "Dream" Coaching Candidates

Don't forget, you can watch Bulls Outsiders after Bulls Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago following every game. You can also stream the show on Facebook Live and interact with Matt, John and David.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kelly Crull react to the Bulls win over the Cavaliers and Kendall explains why he thinks the Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back next season.

1:15 Bulls have several winnable games in upcoming stretch

2:45 On importance to team morale of beating the Cavs

3:30 Reaction to good game from Kris Dunn and importance of the next 3 months to him

8:45 Kendall on why players don’t get the development they need entering the NBA at 19 years old

12:00 Impact of losing on Zach LaVine

13:45 Kendall on why Derrick Rose would be a great fit for the Bulls next season

16:00 Why Bulls should look at Tobias Harris

18:00 Kendall discusses his dream lineup for next year

20:30 Expectations for upcoming home stand and what we’d like to see from the Bulls

23:30 Kelly on Bulls fans asking her questions at Cubs convention

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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