As the last move on the day that the NBA’s free agency season finally kicked into gear, Pau Gasol agreed to a new deal with the Chicago Bulls. Details of the deal have not been released yet, but it will not be a sign and trade deal.
We are only two years removed from a five-year streak where Gasol was a top 20 fantasy player, so to think that the big Spaniard is washed up would be a big mistake. In fact, even in last season’s abomination of a season for the Lakers, Gasol was fantasy’s 51st ranked player. Once again though, he was bothered by injury, playing only 60 of 82 games, after suiting up for only 49 the year before.
He’s not going to be the top 10 player he was in 2010-11, but he is still a very good player and could be the piece that propels the Bulls back into the championship discussion. Last season, on the train wreck Lakers, Gasol showed what he can do, even though there were public disagreements between he and former coach Mike D’Antoni. Here’s how Gasol’s stats looked last season.
But not only does Gasol move from D’Antoni’s up pace, fantasy friendly offense, but he goes to the offensively challenged Bulls team, that played at a snail’s pace in comparison — 29th in the league. Now, whether the Bulls played at such a slow pace because they were missing their best player — Derrick Rose — or it was due to a lack of offensively talent, it’s hard to judge, but one thing’s for certain, Pau will make them better. If we look back to Rose’s MVP season of 2010-11, the last time we’ve really seen him fully healthy, the Bulls managed to be the 23rd fastest team in the NBA. Since then, they have been 28th, 27th and 29th. So, it’s a fair assumption that a healthy Rose and the addition of Gasol, could move the Bulls up a notch or two in the pace department.
Last season, the Bulls used a three-man rotation in the front court — Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. With Boozer now likely out, I’d imagine Gasol should slot into his role, with the only thing complicating that theory is the addition of Nikola Mirotic. A further complication is Tom Thibodeau’s reluctance to play rookies, and he will have two rookies looking time — Mirotic and Doug McDermott.
So what we have is a frontcourt rotation of the following players.
SF – Mike Dunleavy/Doug McDermott/Nikola Mirotic
PF – Taj Gibson/Pau Gasol/Nikola Mirotic
C – Joakim Noah/Pau Gasol
Last season, Noah played 35 minutes and Gibson played 29, so let’s lock them into those minutes. Boozer played 28 minutes, while Nazr Mohammed got seven minutes a night and Louis Amundson and Greg Smith each played nine minutes. I think slotting Gasol at around 29 minutes seems about right, playing both the four and the five, pushing Mirotic over the three to play with Dunleavy and McDermott.
Will this minute drop and slow down in pace be enough to drop Gasol out of the running to be drafted in standard leagues? Well, here’s how my projections play out.
If Gasol can get the 29 minutes I project for him in Chicago, he should last somewhere in the 80′s and that feels about right. I get the feeling Gasol will be overlooked due to Gibson and Mirotic’s presence, so you may be able to get him at a bargain. I’ll definitely be looking at Gasol in my leagues.