Pau Gasol, perhaps the best center on the market right now, has been linked to an increasing number of teams–but may return to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The unrestricted free agent, known for his superior passing ability and all-around good play, is reported to want to return to the team if they succeed in signing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.
“Pau Gasol has emerged as a key selling point for LA as sources believe he would quickly re-sign if they are able to land Anthony or James,” reported Ramona Shelburne of ESPN via Twitter on Sunday.
Gasol has expressed his excitement about being a free agent and choosing where he goes, telling fans last week that it’s a good “problem” to have.
Sources added to Yahoo that the Lakers have ascended into serious contention to sign Anthony.
Another team that has expressed interest–and another team that is going after Anthony and James–is the Chicago Bulls.
However, unlike the Lakers plan to sign one of the stars then Gasol, the Bulls are planning on signing Gasol if they cannot get Anthony or James, according to the Chicago Tribune. Team officials went to Los Angeles late last week to meet with Gasol, leaving the meeting “with the impression Gasol’s decision wasn’t imminent.”
A source told the paper that the Bulls want to do a sign-and-trade with the Lakers if Gasol agrees to join the team.
There are a number of other teams interested in the 33-year-old, who is said to be looking for a contract in the $10 million a year range.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, two of the strongest teams in the Western Conference, have expressed interest in signing the center to a midlevel deal of about $5 million annually.
Sources also told Yahoo that the Miami Heat have targeted Gasol, perhaps the best center left on the market after the Washington Wizards re-signed Marcin Gortat.
Another team looking at Gasol is the New York Knicks. New team president Phil Jackson is familiar with Gasol, as is new coach Derek Fisher and new point guard Jose Calderon.
Carmelo Anthony reportedly obtained Gasol’s cell phone number and called him to discuss the possibility of playing together in New York.