The Chicago Bulls recovered quickly after losing out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency, landing Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol to bolster the team’s offense.
Gasol announced on his verified Twitter account on Saturday evening that he reached agreement with the Bulls.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Gasol tweeted. “After meditating it a lot I’ve chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career.”
The Spaniard is one of the NBA’s most offensively gifted and versatile big men, and he has long been one of Kobe Bryant’s favorite teammates with the Lakers. Gasol spent the last seven seasons in Los Angeles, teaming with Bryant to win two championships and reach another NBA Finals.
The exact terms of his agreement with the Bulls were not immediately clear. The Bulls and Lakers had reportedly been discussing sign-and-trade options earlier in the day Saturday, but no official announcement from either team had been made.
The 7-foot Gasol is a four-time All-Star and averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games last season with Los Angeles, and he brings some sorely needed offensive punch to the Bulls frontcourt.
Even with Derrick Rose expected to be ready to start next season after missing most of the last two years with knee injuries, the Bulls were still very much in the hunt for some offensive help for one of the most hard-nosed defensive teams in the league.
With Rose out last season, Tom Thibodeau’s group still managed to win 48 games and make the playoffs for the sixth straight season thanks largely to a defense led by Joakim Noah up front and Jimmy Butler on the perimeter. But scoring proved to be very difficult at times, and the Bulls lost to the Washington Wizards in five games of their first-round series.
That’s why they were so hot after Anthony, perhaps the best pure scorer in the game. The Bulls felt he would be a perfect fit to be surrounded by a defensive-minded supporting cast. But as reports swirled that Anthony would remain with the Knicks, the Bulls didn’t waste any time moving on.
Now Gasol will team with Noah, a very good passer in the high post, in a formidable frontcourt tandem.
It’s also the end of an era for Gasol and the Lakers. His arrival in a trade from Memphis helped quell Bryant’s dissatisfaction with the direction of the franchise after owner Jerry Buss decided to move Shaquille O’Neal and go forward with Bryant as the unquestioned face of the franchise.
He arrived in the middle of the 2007-08 season and helped the Lakers reach the finals after a three-season absence. They lost to the Boston Celtics that time, but rebounded to win the next two championships.
Gasol was the subject of trade rumors for much of his time in Los Angeles but always had the steadfast backing of Bryant. But Gasol just turned 34, battled foot injuries last season and clashed with coach Mike D’Antoni several times. D’Antoni is gone, but the Lakers are trying to preserve their long-term salary cap flexibility to make a run at another big star next summer, so bringing the aging big man back was not considered a high priority.