On Friday, various reports came out that stated free agent Pau Gasol had narrowed his options down to two teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls. Deep into Friday night, the Bulls pulled away, as Gasol chose to join the Bulls over the defending champions. This is a head-scratching decision for various reasons, but the main one is centered around the chance to win another NBA Championship.
Obviously the biggest appeal in San Antonio was the Spurs’ ability to win. San Antonio will have a nearly identical roster to that of last season, and adding a former All-Star in Gasol would have solidified the Spurs as favorites once again.
Gregg Popovich‘s most underrated strength is his ability to manage minutes. Ironically, this may be Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s biggest weakness. Popovich has done an incredible job limiting the minutes of his veterans throughout the last couple of seasons, and Popovich would have done wonders in attempting to extend Gasol’s career.
Additionally, the Spurs were the perfect fit offensively for Gasol’s skill set. His versatility and passing are things that Popovich’s offense revolves around, and he would have fit right in to the most efficient offenses in the NBA. Instead, he will join a Bulls team that fits his skills as well but does not possess nearly the dominance of the Spurs’ offense.
Certainly, Gasol is joining a team with a chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2015 NBA Finals. Derrick Rose is returning, and Joakim Noah is coming off the best season in his NBA career. However, joining Popovich and company would have demonstrated that Gasol’s main concern, winning, trumps every other factor.