Pau Gasol is going to end up on one the best teams in the league. That’s his reward for having to play through last season on an insufferably bad roster sans Kobe. He deserves to be on a good team. Gasol is one of the most attractive free agents on the market, despite being 33 years old. He’s one of the most unselfish players in the league and great in the locker room. He’s won two titles, so he brings a winning personality into the locker room. And he still averaged a double-double last season. Even if his stats were inflated running D’Antoni’s offense, Gasol still put up some impressive numbers. He’s the type of player that would fit into any locker room and instantly make the team better. Word on the street is that he’s drawing interest from the Spurs, Heat, Thunder, and Bulls. In other words: the three best teams in the league, and another very good team. Gasol would be great no matter where he went, but where would he fit best?
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
This is probably the best fit for Gasol in terms of playing time and winning. Gasol would most likely start from day one over Steven Adams. The Thunder could use a veteran presence with experience winning, now that Derrick Fisher is gone. The difference is Gasol would actually contribute in a major way, unlike Fisher. The Thunder’s offense often gets stuck in glue, especially in crunch time. It looks like Westbrook and Durant are just taking turns shooting, or worse yet, Westbrook is the only guy shooting. Adding an elite passer like Gasol to the fold would instantly help make things more fluid on offense.
2. San Antonio Spurs
I mean, duh. Everyone seems to fit in perfectly to the Spurs, but Pau especially. The Spurs already move the ball better than anyone in the league. Adding Pau would just be unfair. The Spurs’ offense would be unstoppable. With the Gasol and Splitter on the floor together, the Spurs would have the best big men passing tandem in the league. Seriously, Gasol fits in with the Spurs perfectly. The only question is how good is the fit for Pau personally? If he doesn’t start over Splitter, then isn’t he the 7th man at best, after Manu? I’m sure the Spurs would make it work, but it’s not clear where Pau would fit into the rotation.
3. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have one of the dullest, bleakest offenses in the league. That’ll improve some when Derrick Rose comes back this year, but no one knows how much to expect from him, coming off back-to-back knee injuries. Adding Pau to the mix would be intriguing, pairing him with another one of the best passing big men in the league, Joakim Noah. Noah and Gasol would instantly be League Pass must-see TV. Gasol is also an underrated low post scorer, and would work well if Noah played at the high post, operating as a point-forward like last season. Gasol has a reputation for being one of the softer big men in the league, and that certainly doesn’t fit in with the Bulls’ smash-mouth defensive attitude. But Thibodeau would probably change that.
4. Miami Heat
It’s hard to rank the Heat, until we know exactly what they have. I don’t mean whether they retain the Big 3 or not. I’m assuming they’ll keep LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, but the rest of their roster is up in the air. Gasol would start for the Heat, without a doubt. The problem is the Heat are desperate for a true rim protector and that’s not Gasol. A lineup featuring Gasol and Bosh in the front court would be the softest in the NBA. The Heat’s “Give-LeBron-the-ball-and-get-the-hell-out-of-his-way” would obviously improve with Gasol’s passing, but the Heat would still have plenty of problems defensively.