Pau Gasol

Free Agent Rumors: P. Gasol, Mavs, Wolves, Wright, More

Pau Gasol, whose contract with the Bucks is up, continues to recover from a procedure on his left foot, but he wants to continue his NBA career next season, he tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

“My recovery from surgery has been smooth and I expect to be fully cleared for basketball activities in early August,” Gasol said. “I cannot wait to start training again.”

Gasol, who is an unrestricted free agent, is the only one of Milwaukee’s free agents who has yet to reach an agreement this week. There has been no indication that the Bucks are seeking a reunion.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors:

  • The Mavericks are among the teams that have expressed “strong interest” in Delon Wright, league sources tell Ian Begley of (Twitter link). Darren Wolfson of SKOR North tweets that the Timberwolves have also inquired on Wright. Wright is a restricted free agent, so the Grizzlies would have the chance to match an offer sheet.
  • The Timberwolves continue to kick the tires on free agent point guard T.J. McConnell, according to Wolfson, who tweets that the Sixers, Heat, Lakers, Grizzlies, Suns, Wizards, and Pacers have also checked out McConnell. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter) notes that McConnell could be a target for Miami if the team trades Goran Dragic.
  • The Thunder are among the teams that have expressed some interest in veteran guard Jodie Meeks, a league source tells Brett Dawson of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dawson’s report came shortly before Oklahoma City agreed to terms with Alec Burks, so it’s not clear if the club remains interested in Meeks.
  • In a text message to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link), Enes Kanter explains that he considered re-signing with the Trail Blazers, but didn’t feel as if they gave him enough time to make his decision. Kanter agreed to a two-year deal with Boston.

Central Notes: Bulls, Gasol, Cavs, Pacers, Pistons

There’s a growing belief around the NBA that the Bulls are open to discussing trades for anyone on their roster – and any assets they hold – besides Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., sources familiar with the team’s plans tell Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Still, while the Bulls will likely consider a number of trade options this offseason, Mayberry makes a case that the club shouldn’t part ways with the No. 7 overall pick. Mayberry argues that cashing in their chips now for a veteran could be both premature and risky for the Bulls, who would have marginal assets available going forward. Plus, the No. 7 selection has proven valuable for the franchise in recent years — Markkanen and Carter were both selected at that spot.

Meanwhile, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tackles a handful of Bulls-related topics in his latest mailbag, exploring draft, trade, and free agency options. Johnson believes the Bulls would “absolutely” try to get involved as a facilitator in a multi-team Anthony Davis trade, and later suggests that if Chicago pursues an RFA point guard, Malcolm Brogdon is probably a more realistic target than D’Angelo Russell.

Here’s more from around the Central:

And-Ones: Global Camp, Gasol, EuroLeague, Free Agents

This year’s NBA Global Camp is in serious jeopardy, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Organizers fear the league’s official international combine will have to be cancelled due to logistical issues with the venue in Monaco, as well as other concerns.

“Chances are greater that it may not happen but situations are in play that may still save the camp,” a source told Givony.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Pau Gasol has officially decided not to play for Spain during the FIBA tournament this summer, according to a Sportando report. The Bucks big man underwent surgery two weeks ago to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. He’s hopeful of playing in the Olympics next year if his national team qualifies.
  • The EuroLeague has been affected by a talent drain from the NBA, the G League and China, according to Givony. The top international free agents shooting guard Cory Higgins, former Celtics point man Shane Larkin and combo guard Vasilije Micic. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Deni Avdija was a standout in the Adidas Next Generation tournament and the 6’9” point forward could be a Top 10 selection in next year’s draft.
  • Headed by the Knicks, teams with the most salary-cap space and their ability to land top free agents go under the microscope in ESPN’s Bobby Marks latest in-depth piece.
  • In his own look at free agency, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports explores how this season’s All-NBA choices – which will be announced very soon – could impact contract situations for several stars. We took a deep dive into this subject earlier in the year too.

Pau Gasol Undergoes Foot Surgery, Out For Playoffs

Bucks center Pau Gasol won’t return before the end of the 2019 postseason, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, Gasol underwent successful surgery on Thursday to repair a navicular stress fracture in his left foot.

The Bucks confirmed that Gasol’s recovery timetable should put him in position to make a full recovery in advance of training camp. However, since the big man is on an expiring contract, there’s a good chance he’ll no longer be on Milwaukee’s roster when he’s ready to return to action in the fall.

General manager Jon Horst and the Bucks’ front office made a series of savvy roster additions before and during the 2018/19 season, but the signing of Gasol on the buyout market looks like one of the club’s few missteps. After being waived by the Spurs and arriving in Milwaukee in early March, the six-time All-Star appeared in just three games, averaging 1.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 10.0 minutes per contest.

Gasol was never expected to be a major part of Milwaukee’s playoff rotation, so his absence likely won’t have much of an impact on the team’s ability to advance even deeper in the postseason.

Still, the Bucks may regret the decision to keep Gasol on the roster over young power forward Christian Wood when they needed a roster spot to sign Tim Frazier later in March. After being claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, Wood averaged 16.9 PPG and 7.9 RPG in eight games (23.6 MPG) down the stretch, and he remains under contract at the non-guaranteed minimum for 2019/20. Pau didn’t an appear in another game for Milwaukee after Wood’s release.

Gasol, who will turn 39 this July, said back in the fall that he wasn’t considering retiring anytime soon, and still hoped to play during the 2019/20 season. We’ll see if a disappointing, injury-plagued season changes his outlook at all, but for now it’s safe to assume he’ll try to make it back from this foot surgery and catch on with an NBA team for training camp.

Bucks Notes: Hill, Gasol, Wilson, Draft Workouts

Tonight’s expected return of Malcolm Brogdon won’t cost veteran guard George Hill any playing time, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Hill has averaged 11.6 PPG in eight playoffs games this year and has been Milwaukee’s leading scorer off the bench in each of the three wins over the Celtics.

Acquired from the Cavaliers in a three-team trade in December, Hill has brought a steadying presence to the Bucks‘ backcourt and helped fill the void while Brogdon was sidelined. Brogdon is expected to be on a minutes restriction for a while as he returns from a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot that has kept him out of action since mid-March.

Milwaukee will face a difficult decision on Hill’s future this summer. Until July 1, he has just a $1MM guarantee on his $18MM salary for next season, and the Bucks could use some of that money to play the free agent market or to help re-sign Brogdon and Khris Middleton.

There’s more from Milwaukee on the night of Game 5:

  • The Bucks aren’t sure when center Pau Gasol might be available again, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. Gasol hasn’t played since injuring his left ankle nearly two months ago and has appeared in just three games since signing with Milwaukee on March 3. Coach Mike Budenholzer said today that Gasol’s return is “not imminent or anywhere near.”
  • Second-year forward D.J. Wilson suffered a twisted ankle yesterday and won’t be available for Game 5, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Wilson has appeared in six of the Bucks’ eight postseason games, but is averaging just six minutes per night.
  • Kansas guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson were part of a pre-draft workout the Bucks held Tuesday, relays Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’sPressBox. Both were five-star recruits out of high school and had promising freshman seasons. Joining them were forwards EJ Montgomery of Kentucky and Dererk Pardon of Northwestern. All are considered to be second-round picks. Point guard Clayton Custer, formerly of Loyola Chicago, worked out for the team today, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN.

Pau Gasol To Miss About A Month With Ankle Injury

The injury news keeps getting worse for the Bucks, who will be without center Pau Gasol for roughly a month because of an injured left ankle, tweets ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

With the playoffs set to start in three weeks, Gasol should be considered questionable for the entire first round. The 38-year-old center has played just three games — and 10 total minutes — for Milwaukee after reaching a buyout agreement with the Spurs three weeks ago.

Gasol told Matt Velasquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday that the ankle had been bothering him, but he was getting it treated and was following the team’s recovery plan (Twitter link).

The news caps off a nightmarish week of injuries for the Bucks, who lost Malcolm Brogdon probably through at least the first round of the playoffs with a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot and then saw Nikola Mirotic sidelined for 2-4 weeks with a fractured thumb.

Central Notes: Bucks, Mirotic, Cavs, Boylen

The Bucks haven’t won a postseason series since 2001, but general manager Jon Horst believes this is the year the team breaks that streak, and potentially makes a much deeper playoff run, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“This is a time for us to take a step forward and to win a playoff series,” Horst said. “Even though people are sleeping on the Bucks, I think if we bowed out in the first round, everybody would be like, ‘What in the hell happened?’ Me included. That would be a disappointment.

“But it would be a significant thing for us to advance, because we haven’t done it in so long and it would be a big step for this group. But I think the metrics line up where if we can do that and stay healthy, and stay together, have some lucky breaks along the way, I think the talent and the performance thus far would show you that we should be playing into June, hopefully.”

As Amick explores in his deep dive on the Bucks, the team has enjoyed the sort of camaraderie and chemistry this season that Horst believes can play a significant part in a club’s success. In Horst’s view, that sort of enthusiasm to come into work extends to all aspects of the organization in Milwaukee, rather than just the 15 players on the NBA roster.

“Quite honestly, I’ve fired people in our organization because they can’t get excited about working for a franchise that has a brand new arena, a brand new practice facility, Giannis Antetokounmpo as a superstar, Mike Budenholzer as a head coach, and the ownership that we have,” Horst said. “And I say, ‘If you can’t get excited, and wake up in the morning to be part of that, then you don’t belong.’ That’s from a staffing perspective, and a player perspective, on down. That’s the culture. That’s the filter that we’ve tried to establish.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Nikola Mirotic, who arrived in Milwaukee just a few weeks before Pau Gasol did, played a key role in ensuring his fellow Spaniard ended up with the Bucks, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. When Gasol was presented with the opportunity to leave the Spurs via buyout and was considering joining the Bucks, he asked Mirotic for his impressions of the organization. “I said, ‘Listen, man, I really feel this team is special and if you want to be part of something special you should join this team,'” Mirotic said, per Velazquez. “That’s all I told him and I really felt that way.”
  • During the Cavaliers‘ four-year run as Eastern champs, they ultimately gave up on Joe Harris, who has since evolved into an important contributor in Brooklyn. Now that they’re in the midst of a rebuild themselves, the Cavs are looking to find “value in the margins” by identifying players like Harris, who may slip through the cracks elsewhere, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.
  • Count Sixers head coach Brett Brown among those who believe in Jim Boylen‘s ability to lead the Bulls. Before his 76ers fell to Boylen’s squad on Wednesday night, Brown praised the Bulls’ head coach for getting the most out of his players, calling him the right person to “help steer this program” through its rebuild (link via Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago). While Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg during the season, he’s expected to return as Chicago’s coach next season.

Pau Gasol Clears Waivers, Signs With Bucks

MARCH 3, 6:10pm: Gasol has officially signed with the Bucks, according to a team press release.

MARCH 3, 4:30pm: Gasol has officially cleared waivers, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. San Antonio will have a $15.92MM cap hit this season and $5.07MM in 2019/20, Marks adds.

MARCH 2, 10:12am: Gasol gave back $2.5MM in salary as part of his buyout with the Spurs, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The move will allow San Antonio to lower their salary cap hit for Gasol for both this season and next.

MARCH 1, 5:32pm: The Spurs and Gasol have officially finalized the big man’s buyout, the team announced in a press release.

“Pau Gasol is an exceptional individual and the ultimate professional,” Popovich said in a statement. “We are grateful for his contributions on the court, in the locker room and in our community.”

MARCH 1, 3:46pm: The Spurs and Pau Gasol have reached an agreement on a contract buyout, which will clear the way for the veteran big man to reach free agency and join a new team, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

March 1 is the last day that a player can be waived by one team and retain his postseason eligibility for another club, so San Antonio figures to finalize the move before the end of the day in order to give Gasol the opportunity to participate in the playoffs for his new team.

That new team will be the Bucks, as Gasol intends to sign with Milwaukee once he clears waivers, Wojnarowski reports. The Bucks had been on the lookout for one more frontcourt player, having been linked to Marcin Gortat earlier today.

Gasol, whom we identified as a potential buyout candidate in February, has appeared in just 27 games and averaged a career-low 12.2 minutes per contest in San Antonio this season. Limited by injury issues early on, the 38-year-old hadn’t been a regular part of the team’s rotation even after getting healthy, as LaMarcus Aldridge, Davis Bertans, and Jakob Poeltl handled the majority of the minutes up front.

While Gasol’s scoring numbers are way down, he has still been effective in other aspects of the game on a per-minute basis in 2018/19 — his 13.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per 36 minutes are both career bests.

Gasol is unlikely to play a major role in Milwaukee, but he could be an important insurance policy off the bench – particularly in the postseason – on a roster that doesn’t feature many traditional bigs. Joining the top-seeded Bucks could also give Gasol the chance to match up with his brother in the postseason — Marc Gasol is, of course, a member of the Raptors, the East’s No. 2 seed.

Although the Bucks currently have a full 15-man roster, one of those players – Isaiah Canaan – is on a 10-day contract, so he’s the likeliest candidate to be the odd man out when Milwaukee officially signs Gasol.

The exact terms of Gasol’s buyout with the Spurs aren’t yet known, but in addition to the prorated amount remaining on his $16.8MM salary for 2018/19, he had also been owed a $6.7MM partial guarantee on next year’s salary. San Antonio figures to slightly reduce that cap charge for 2019/20 as part of the buyout agreement, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

Marks also observes that, unlike J.R. Smith‘s contract, Gasol’s deal was signed under the current CBA and would have been subject to the new trade rules for non-guaranteed salaries in the offseason. That means the Spurs could only have counted the guaranteed portion of his deal ($6.7MM) rather than the full amount ($16MM) for salary-matching purposes if they had tried to deal him this summer, significantly limiting his appeal as a trade chip. That’s likely one reason why the Spurs didn’t feel the need to hang onto him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Iguodala, Gupta, Vesely, Williamson

Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala was elected First Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, according to an NBPA press release. Iguodala has been on the Executive Committee since February 2013. He replaces LeBron James, whose four-year term has expired.

The BucksMalcolm Brogdon, the CelticsJaylen Brown and the HornetsBismack Biyombo were elected to serve as VPs on the Executive Committee. They replace Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry and Iguodala.

Chris Paul remains President of the committee with Anthony Tolliver, Pau Gasol, C.J. McCollum and Garrett Temple also serving on it.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Pistons assistant GM Sachin Gupta never knew ESPN’s Trade Machine would become so popular when he created it in 2006, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Gupta called it a “fun project” and took about a month to write the code for the Trade Machine when he worked for the network, Beard adds. “It’s not meant to replace common sense. It’s not meant to replace any GM’s job,” Gupta said. “It’s simply based on the rules and whether it works or not.”
  • Former NBA player Jan Vesely has signed an extension with Fenerbahce that keep him under contract until 2022, the Turkish team tweets. The 7-foot power forward was drafted by the Wizards with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft but only lasted three NBA seasons.
  • Stephen Curry is a fan of Duke’s Zion Williamson, considered the top prospect in this year’s draft, he said in an interview with The Undefeated and relayed by E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News. “He’s unreal. We were talking about him the other day in our team room,” Curry said, via Justin Tinsley of the Undefeated. “He has a lot of hype around him and he’s unbelievably talented, but you can’t teach his passion and the way that … he plays. He plays hard every possession, and that’s an underrated skill that kids can kind of emulate.”

Pau Gasol Denies Requesting Trade From Spurs

Whispers that the Spurs were making Pau Gasol available in trades prior to the deadline circulated and it’s possible that the big man had requested the team search for a suitor. Last week, an ESPN Deportes report suggested as much, but Gasol disputed that rumor today.

“What’s the source?” Gasol said of rumors of him requesting a trade (via Tom Orsborn of My San Antonio). “What’s the validity of that story? I don’t know. I didn’t request to be traded.”

The report did not cite a source, instead simply stating (translation from Spanish) that Gasol had asked the team for a trade. The 38-year-old did admit that the current situation is not what he expected it would be.

“I think people understand or can figure out that my situation is not what was expected for me,” Gasol said when speaking with the local media today. “My only wish and desire is to be able to contribute to the team and be able to be on the floor and do what I am supposed to do and do what I signed here to do, and kind of live up to what I am paid for.”

The Spurs re-signed the Spaniard to a three-year, $48MM deal back in the summer of 2017 with visions of continuing the Gasol-LaMarcus Aldridge pairing. However, this season, Gasol has struggled to find a consistent role. In his 26 games played, he has played no more than nine minutes in 10 of them, while seeing 20 minutes or more on just three occasions.

Only $6.7MM of Gasol’s roughly $16MM salary for the 2019/20 campaign is guaranteed and Orsborn writes that the Spurs have looked at ways to “rid themselves” of what’s left on the big man’s deal. Could that be via a buyout? Gasol was asked about the possibility.

“There are a lot of rumors, a lot of stories,” he said. “Who knows where that comes from. It would be great if people say, ‘Hey, this person has said this.’ OK, then let’s talk to this person…But I don’t know. It didn’t come from me. So ask whoever that source or that outlet found that information. Go ask them. I think that’s just fair. Or ask management, right?”

Gasol believes he can still contribute. “I love this game,” he said. “I love what I do. I work hard to be able to do what I do, and I want to continue to do it. I know I may not be in my prime, but I think I can still contribute at a very high level and be an important impact for my team and make my team better.”