Tuesday 18th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Thunder Are Frontrunner for Pau Gasol

gasolgasolrthPau Gasol is drawing interest from plenty of NBA teams, chief among them apparently being the Oklahoma City Thunder.

True story.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Thunder have unexpectedly emerged as a leading candidate for the big man’s services:

The Oklahoma City Thunder, meanwhile, have unexpectedly emerged as a leading contender for the services of Gasol despite the Thunder’s financial limitations to try to sign him, according to ESPN sources.

Sources say that the Thunder, meanwhile, have engaged Gasol and Memphis Grizzlies sharpshooter Mike Miller this week among the free agents they’ve pursued since the market opened Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. ET, with one source saying that Gasol is “opening up to the possibility” of joining forces with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook even though Oklahoma City is limited to roughly $5 million in spending cash under the luxury-tax line at present.

Gasol had a phone conversation with Thunder general manager Sam Presti on Wednesday, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Barring any further moves to shed salary, Oklahoma City would thus have to ask Gasol and Miller to agree to steep pay cuts to actually sign with the Thunder.

Are we missing something here? Perhaps bundles of cap space general manager Sam Presti has been hiding in his back pocket? Or maybe a covert willingness to dip into the luxury cap? Something about this just feels weird.

Yet oh so very right.

Gasol would easily be an upgrade from Kendrick “I’m Clogging the Shit Out of Your Cap” Perkins. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game and Scott Brooks’ seeming refusal to give him substantial minutes this past season attests to his diminished value and potentially subpar conditioning.

Bringing in Gasol would be a boon on the offensive end. He’s an inside-out big like Serge Ibaka, only a more skilled passer who can direct the offense from either block. If he signs, he would instantly become their third best playmaker behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Speaking of those two, they could really use this type of addition. The Thunder need another piece to legitimately contend against teams in the Western Conference. Their Western Conference Finals performance against the San Antonio Spurs was depressing, in that it wasn’t an upset. Ibaka wasn’t healthy, but, for the most part, Oklahoma City lost by being Oklahoma City.

Instant offensive creativity like Gasol provides can only help. We cannot say the same for his defense. His slow, plodding lateral movements don’t enable him to guard those who can put the ball on the floor. Roll him out against anyone who isn’t a predominantly standstill big man, and there may be a mess or two to cleanup.

Price is an issue as well. Gasol made $19.3 million last year and while he’s due for a pay cut, is he prepared to take $14.5 million less? That would be a shocker. Then again, he wants to win, so maybe not. The Thunder can help him contend immediately, unlike the Los Angeles Lakers.

This is Gasol’s chance to actually get after his third ring—you know, provided he’s akin to taking 74.9 percent pay cuts.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.

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