Pau Gasol has formally notified the Bulls that he’ll opt out of his contract, declining his player option for 2016/17 rather than picking it up, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter). The move, which will allow Gasol to hit the open market, had long been expected, with a report way back in December suggesting the veteran was “very likely” to turn down that option.
[RELATED: Player option decisions for 2016/17]
Gasol, who signed with the Bulls in 2014, would have made $7,769,520 in 2016/17 if he had opted into the final year of his contract. However, the former third overall pick has continued to be productive during his time in Chicago, averaging 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season, and earning All-Star nods in each of the last two years. He should be in line for a raise, if he wants it, and likely another multiyear deal.
The Bulls, who traded former MVP Derrick Rose to New York last week, appear to be in the midst of a rebuilding phase, or at least a retooling phase. Gasol doesn’t seem to be part of those plans, and while neither side has come out and said that the Spaniard – who turns 36 next month – won’t be back, it would be a shock if he re-signed in Chicago.
Several teams will likely have interest in the 15-year veteran, including the Knicks, who sent Robin Lopez – a potential replacement for Gasol – to Chicago in the Rose deal. Earlier in the offseason, Pau’s brother Marc Gasol advised his brother to sign with San Antonio, and that’s a possibility the Spurs could explore if they miss out on their top target, Kevin Durant.