The Bulls aren’t as intent on re-signing Pau Gasol, who plans to opt out and hit free agency this summer, as they were after the trade deadline in February, when GM Gar Forman referred to him as part of the core, sources tell K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Gasol is open-minded about hearing from other teams, Johnson adds, though it’s unclear if that’s a change from earlier, when Johnson identified the Bulls as the front-runners to re-sign him. Gasol said in February that how the team played down the stretch would influence his decision. Chicago has gone 11-12 since the All-Star break.
See more from the Windy City amid news from the Central Division:
- Bulls brass is reportedly thinking about trading Jimmy Butler, but teams would have to make overwhelming offers to get Chicago to bite, Johnson writes in the same piece. Some in the organization nonetheless believe Butler’s personality has changed over the last year, according to Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. Coach Fred Hoiberg denied Thursday that any idea about trading Butler would come from tension between them, Johnson notes, and for what it’s worth, Butler made it clear he wants to remain with the Bulls, as Friedell relays. “Jimmy and I have a very good relationship,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously I have a lot of trust in Jimmy, putting the ball in his hands late in games. I communicate with Jimmy as much as anyone on this team. I obviously think the world of him for how hard he pushes himself and how much he just has improved over the years with his work ethic. That rubs off on the other guys.”
- The Pistons often use Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to defend point guards, and his versatility and durability are earning high praise from coach/executive Stan Van Gundy, who thinks he should be in the discussion for the NBA’s All-Defensive teams, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press examines. “He should get consideration, for sure,” Van Gundy said. “I think that every night he draws our toughest perimeter assignment, and he’s played absolutely huge minutes. It’s not easy to do. It’s not like you can go out there and just use all your energy for 6 minutes and get a rest. Put those two things together, and I think he should definitely get consideration.” Caldwell-Pope will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.
- LeBron James and the Cavaliers are essentially in the same position in their second year since reuniting as the Heat were in their second LeBron season, struggling to live up to expectations, observes SB Nation’s Tom Ziller. The key is the playoffs, where the Heat made a title run that year, Ziller writes.