Gasol update: Don’t hold out hope, Spurs fans
LAS VEGAS — The Spurs’ courtship of Pau Gasol has clearly been the most dramatic part of the offseason in San Antonio, and late Friday night it seemed the tides turned toward the favor of the Chicago Bulls, the other suitor in the Pau chase. Reports stated the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers were “working” toward a sign-and-trade agreement that would send the big man to the Windy City, but a very tricky cap situation and the parameters of the CBA have made life difficult for both sides.
San Antonio, to our knowledge, is simply offering a contract worth up to the full mid-level exception ($5.305 mil), something Chicago is capable of giving as well. The Spurs’ offer is simple; the Bulls’ is not.
Let’s get this out of the way: Should Pau pick the Bulls based on reasons not associated with money, it wouldn’t be surprising at all. Chicago is one of the greatest cities on the planet, it’s a big market, and Gasol would likely have a shot at more playing time under Tom Thibodeau than he would with the crowded streets of the Spurs’ roster. But the logistics of a sign-and-trade between the two sides are very complicated.
Reports surfaced this morning that the Bulls are looking to send Mike Dunleavy and the expiring contracts of Mike James, Lou Amundson, and Ronnie Brewer (which is so hilariously NBA). The salaries of these four players line up like this:
Dunleavy — $3,326,235
James — $1,448,490
Amundson — $1,310,286
Brewer — $1,310,286
Total — $7,395,297
That cap figure, if looking at it in a vacuum, would be a very palatable price to pay for Gasol in a trade (not to mention, if that’s all you had to give up to get Pau…). But it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that.
Gasol’s cap hold is a monster — $20,250,143 million, to be exact. If you include both the Lakers’ trade for Jeremy Lin and the new deal for Jordan Hill, L.A.’s payroll currently sits at an astounding ~$77.1 million. If you’re keeping track, this means they did not have the cap space to acquire Lin in a simple cash transaction. With that Gasol cap hold still in place, the Lakers were capped, and unless another move is made, the trade wouldn’t work within the CBA guidelines. So something else is in the works.
But the new information this morning is that L.A. is holding off, for now, on the reported four-year, $21.5 million deal for Nick Young in an effort to complete Pau deal first. If this is the case, Young’s cap hold is only $915,243 rather than the $5 million or so his contract would’ve guaranteed in the first year. This puts both teams in position to make things happen.
My prediction: L.A. renounces the rights to Gasol, leaving it with a bit more than $6.2 million in cap space on paper (before potentially shedding any other salary), which they’d then use to sign and trade Pau. That price tag is close enough to the total of the reported contracts Chicago would be giving away in the transaction to fit within the CBA’s sign-and-trade guidelines.
This seems like the simple path, and perhaps it’s more complicated than this in the sense that the teams involved may have different objectives, like actually signing Young or potentially finding more money for Gasol. But from what it sounds like, the deal is about to be completed.
It’s not often big(-ish)-name free agents come down to San Antonio, so Spurs fans are used to this. But Gasol appears to have a better situation available to him in Chicago. He would’ve been a nice cherry on top of the roster, but let’s be realistic — it’s already pretty decent the way it is.
Update: Gasol is reportedly signing with the Bulls outright, not being traded. Unless some other, unreported cap gymnastics are happening behind the scenes, this means he’ll be signing for the mid-level exception — the same the Spurs were able to offer. We’re still waiting on the official news, and maybe the actual deal was lost in translation, but it seems like he’ll be signing outright at the moment.