Mar 14, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (left) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The world champion San Antonio Spurs are in quiet pursuit of veteran Pau Gasol. What needs to happen for them to land him?
Bulls land Carmelo Anthony
Probably the biggest threat to every team in the Gasol chase are the Chicago Bulls. They reside in the weak Eastern Conference, have a proven and respected head coach and a roster burgeoning with enough talent for a title run. All they need is another scoring presence to help their anemic offense. That is why they are furiously chasing All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who can become that second scoring presence next to a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. At the same time, everybody knows Gasol is their Plan B if Anthony decides to go elsewhere. This could explain why Gasol is awaiting a decision by him like everybody else.
Scott Brooks and the Thunder can’t find the cash
One team that really wants Gasol and is doing everything within their power to convince him are the Oklahoma City Thunder. After their tough loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, it became clear they needed another presence in the paint to help Serge Ibaka. The roster itself is attractive but unfortunately head coach Scott Brooks is handcuffed in negotiations by the fact OKC has just $5 million to spend under the luxury tax line. That is considerably less than the $10 million rumors have hinted Gasol is looking for. So unless the Thunder make some cost-cutting moves they are indeed a long shot.
Phil Jackson can’t sell Derek Fisher
Pau Gasol certainly has fond memories of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher. Together they won two championships in 2009 and 2010 for the Los Angeles Lakers. Now Jackson and Fisher are together again in New York and they have high hopes for turning the Knicks around. Obviously their top priority is retaining Carmelo Anthony but Gasol is also a part of the plan whether they do or not. The problem is the Knicks are not exactly immediate contenders even with Anthony. Also key in the facts are that Jackson is not coaching. He is team president and Fisher is on the bench now, his first coaching job at any level. At age 34, Gasol may not want to risk the few remaining years he has left on a rebuilding project.
If these key factors come to pass, the San Antonio Spurs could land the steal of NBA free agency, upping their already solid odds of repeating as champs.