The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be losing Pau Gasol this summer, with the big man seeming increasingly likely to be on a new team next season and the Bulls moving into rebuilding mode.
The Bulls have tumbled out of the playoff picture in recent weeks, and appear to be moving toward a roster renovation, with several key players ready to leave. Recent reports suggest that Gasol will be among them, even though previous reports claimed that keeping Gasol would be a priority for the Bulls this summer.
“Sources said the Bulls are softening on the public stance general manager Gar Forman issued at the trade deadline that Gasol ‘is part of the core,’ not to mention Gasol is open-minded to entertaining rival offers.”
Johnson wrote that the Chicago Bulls aren’t looking for a total re-haul. Many recent reports have suggested that the Bulls will be trading Jimmy Butler, who has fallen out of the team’s good graces.
Back in December, ESPN‘s Zach Lowe reported that the Chicago Bulls were growing tired of Butler’s selfish attitude both on and off the court.
“His rise has engendered some minor hard feelings within the team,” Lowe wrote. “There is a sense that Butler relishes the trappings of stardom a bit too much, and that he doesn’t do enough to support his teammates, as a playmaker or a cheerleader. The Bulls have been unusually vulnerable to infighting when things go bad during a game. They are not a team that socializes together off the floor.”
But Johnson suggested that the trade rumors surrounding Jimmy Butler aren’t true, unless he would request a trade from the Bulls.
Gasol, however, could end up being a casualty of the team’s rebuild if they deem he — or his upcoming contract — wouldn’t be a fit with their plans for the future.
Pau Gasol is also feeding the rumors a bit, noting that he is open to discussions with other teams. It’s widely believed that Gasol’s $7.7 million player option for 2016-17 will be declined, making him a free agent on July 1.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 1, 2016
Much of where the Chicago Bulls rumors go next could be determined in the next week. The team is currently on the fringe of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and a drop out of the playoff field could prompt the team to make some more wide-sweeping changes for next year.
But if the Bulls were to make the playoffs and somehow make a run, it could strengthen Gasol’s place on the team. A loss this weekend to the Pistons put the Bulls two games out of the playoff picture with six to play, so there is still a big climb ahead of the team.
Gasol wasn’t losing hope, however.
“The math is probably against us,” Pau Gasol said. “But we also have the mentality of continuing to fight and give ourselves a chance.
“We can control our effort and spirit.”
But if the Chicago Bulls can’t make a fantastic run in the final week of the season, then the rumors of Pau Gasol finding a new home may grow even louder.
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