The Bulls have had a disappointing season. They are not mathematically out of the playoffs just yet, but talks in Chicago have already shifted to the off-season and the impending free agency of their two big men.
The Bulls have only gone 12-15 since the trade deadline, and at the time it was rumored they might trade Gasol — who has a player option of $7.8 million for season that he’ll likely decline — to the Kings. Keeping him might have been a poor move on Chicago’s part because Pau is now openly expressing his weariness with the Bulls.
Nothing is set right now. I will evaluate what I need to when the time comes,” Gasol said Thursday night in Miami. “The way the team has responded to adversity and finished up the season has been disappointing.”
Joakim Noah has probably been dealt the most adversity this season, though. First he had to come off the bench. Then, he had to deal with rookie coach Fred Hoiberg lying that he volunteered to come off the bench. And finally, his season ended when he dislocated his shoulder back in January.
Noah’s response to his reduced role sounds so unselfish you would think it came from the San Antonio Spurs.
“I never said I want to come off the bench,” Noah said then. “I said I’ll do what’s best for the team.”
But it’s clear he was aggravated by the presumption he volunteered to do so.
Not to say Pau has been a selfish player, far from it, but his comments as of late are more of a “me” vs. a “we” mentality. Then again, Pau hasn’t been with this franchise his entire career like Joakim has. Noah has a strong, long-lasting relationship with the Bulls organization, which is why — according to the Tribune — they would like to hold onto him.
However, Chicago might be investing more with their heart than their mind. Noah has seen a steep decline in his production since his All-Star season in 2013-2014; although, that is mainly due to injuries. But Pau is a veteran big man who was an All-Star replacement this season and an All-Star starter last season; he’s again putting up impressive averages of 16.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season, too.
It’s disappointing because this year has been a healthier one for the team overall. They’ve finally gotten some good minutes from Derek Rose, and Jimmy Butler was steering the wheel before he suffered his own injury issues near the All-Star break. But it looks like the Bulls will be doing some more rebuilding this offseason — it just remains to be seen which big man they keep, or if they keep both again.