The former Los Angeles Lakers big man is one of the top names on the open market, and appears to have garnered some interest from the Thunder. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Oklahoma City has been in contact with Gasol since free agency opened yesterday morning.
ESPN sources say Pau Gasol and Mike Miller are indeed among free agents that Oklahoma City has engaged with since market opened
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2014
Gasol would be an excellent addition for the Thunder, who are desperately in need of some offensive firepower in the frontcourt. While Serge Ibaka upgraded his offensive game last season, Oklahoma City hasn’t gotten what they were hoping for when they acquired Kendrick Perkins. The anhedonic center averaged only 3.4 points per game last season, and simply hasn’t lived up to expectations with the Thunder.
Although Gasol’s last couple of seasons have been concerning, a change of scenery would certainly benefit the Spanish big man. He has a polished post game and also offers outstanding range for a seven-footer. With a reliable scoring presence in the paint, the Thunder could afford to spread the ball around some and take some of the pressure off of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to light up the scoreboard. On top of that, Gasol is a tremendous passer from the paint who could easily create some more opportunities for Oklahoma City’s two superstars.
The only problem with bringing Gasol to Oklahoma City is the financial aspects of a potential deal. The Thunder only have about $5 million in cap space before they enter luxury tax territory, which the team likely doesn’t want to do. The fact remains that $5 million might not be enough if a bidding war begins for Gasol’s services – especially with teams like the Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks also interested.
If they can open up some cap space or get Gasol to accept a smaller deal, the Thunder would be wise to pull the trigger. They need a scoring presence in the paint, and Gasol is a seamless fit for their lineup.