Pau Gasol Plans to Opt-Out of Current Deal With Bulls at Season’s End


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pau Gasol is planning to opt-out of his current three-year deal with the Chicago Bulls at season’s end.

After the Chicago Bulls defeated the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, Pau Gasol was asked about his current contract situation by Comcast SportsNet Chicago insider Vincent Goodwill. Gasol, 35, has one more year left on the three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed two summers ago.

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

Gasol put up career numbers last season, averaging 18.5 points per game, grabbing a career-high 11.8 rebounds per game and leading the NBA in double-doubles with 54 in 78 games played in 2014-15. Gasol was also elected as a starter for the Eastern Conference during the 2015 All-Star Game in New York City.

“I feel pretty good right now physically,” Gasol said 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.”

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Despite concerns that Gasol wouldn’t fit in Fred Hoiberg‘s new system, Gasol is averaging 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per contest. His 19.9 player efficiency rating is second on the Bulls — only Jimmy Butler‘s 20.8 is higher — and his defensive rating of 93 would mark the lowest of his career.

Gasol saying this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. He’s a 35-year-old big man that’s pursuing one final paycheck before his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career ends. The NBA’s new television deal kicks in during this upcoming summer and the salary cap will continue to rise, so Gasol looking for more money isn’t a shock.

The wild card in the Gasol discussion is the fact that 30-year-old Joakim Noah is set to hit the free agent market at the end of the current campaign. This past June, the Bulls took Bobby Portis at No. 22 in the draft, so it shouldn’t be surprising for anyone that everyone involved with the franchise is looking to the future plans.

(Per, the Bulls are slated to have the No. 27 pick in next year’s draft.)

The Chicago Bulls’ salaries, per

Along with Noah and Gasol, Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks and E’Twaun Moore are all set to become unrestricted free agents. (Of course, Derrick Rose‘s free agency talks will heat up quickly after this season concludes, as he’ll be a UFA after the 2016-17 season.)

Looking at the situation from the outside with 66 games left and a better chance at a playoff push in the East, it would be more intriguing if Gasol returned to Chicago. Although his numbers and play haven’t declined under Hoiberg so far this season, it’s not a scheme that fits Gasol. Hoiberg’s system is about his floor general(s) and players on the wing taking a bulk of the load on the offensive end.

Before Gasol committed to the deal with the Bulls, he considered San Antonio and Miami as his destinations. There’s no telling if he still has those places in the back of his mind, but it’s clear that Gasol could finish his outstanding career elsewhere.