With LeBron James finally announcing his decision to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, another important free agent has decided on his future destination. Pau Gasol made an announcement via twitter that he will be joining the Chicago Bulls next season.
The Spaniard’s arrival in Chicago most likely means the departure of Carlos Boozer. It is rumored that the Bulls will either use the amnesty clause on Boozer or feature him in a sign-&-trade.
As of now, Dwyane Wade is a major target for the Bulls. Wade is a Chicago native and would immediately add talent and experience to the shooting guard position. It is unclear how exactly the Bulls plan on acquiring him. Freeing themselves of Boozer’s contract might be enough to free up cap space to sign Wade.
Last season, Gasol averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He outplayed Boozer in all three of these categories.
Gasol joins a very athletic frontcourt made up of 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Although, Gasol lacks the athleticism of Noah and Gibson, he is a very smart player who can pass and score inside the key. His passing will be of extra importance in distributing the ball from the post to open shooters like Mike Dunleavy and rookie Doug McDermott on the wings.
If everyone can remain healthy in Chicago, the Bulls will be a major contender next season, especially in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose led Chicago into the 2011 and 2012 playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East. However, Rose suffered from a torn ACL in 2012 and a torn meniscus in 2013, which weakened the team.
In Rose’s absence, the Bulls were still able to make the playoffs in 2013 and 2014 as the fourth and fifth seed, respectively. If Rose is able to remain healthy throughout the season, the addition of Gasol only strengthens the Bulls’ chances of claiming the top spot in the Eastern Conference once again.