Gasol is an old 32, given his repeated deep playoff runs with the Lakers and steady participation in international play. He also has bad knees that have forced him to miss the last four games.
He is posting career lows in scoring (12.6) and field goal percentage (42), and is scheduled to make $19.3 million next season, the final year of his deal, according to HoopsHype. In theory, it would be fantastic to see a healthy Gasol play with a healthy Derrick Rose, but right now neither is walking on a pair of perfect legs.
Besides, giving up a proven defensive monster like Gibson to the Pelicans is risky, especially if Chicago packages him with picks that could be swapped for something else of value down the road if not used on a potential contributor come draft night.
[Correction: The Bulls gave up picks Nos. 28 and 43 to move up and select Mirotic. They drafted Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick.]
It was understandable at the time, but Minnesota passed on the opportunity to draft a player with with elite potential and very few holes in his game. And Mirotic is only getting smarter, stronger and better.
Granted, Mirotic comes with two very distinct downsides, both financial.
First, his contract with Real Madrid runs until the end of the 2015-16 season, and Rose is only locked up until 2016-17. However, Carlos Boozer comes off the books after the 2014-15 season – or earlier, if the Bulls use the amnesty clause on him.
Also, unless Mirotic comes over next season – and there is no indication whatsoever that he will -the Bulls or whichever lucky team that trades for him will not be able to pay him according to the rookie scale, since next season will be the third since he was drafted.
But if the Bulls do have the mind to wait it out, and Mirotic does eventually come over, he would be worth every penny of their mid-level exception.
Mirotic has won two consecutive Rising Star awards, given to the best Euroleague player 22 or under. He is the only player to have won that award twice since its inception in 2004 and adds his name to this esteemed list of winners:
2004-05: Erazem Lorbek (Fortitudo Bologna)
2005-06: Andrea Bargnani (Treviso)
2006-07: Rudy Fernandez (Joventut Badalona)
2007-08: Danilo Gallinari (Olimpia Milano)
2008-09: Novica Velickovic (Partizan Belgrade)
2009-10: Ricky Rubio (Barcelona)
Mirotic won the next two, and seemed well on his way to a third Rising Star this season until Olympiacos’ Kostas Papanikolaou turned on the afterburners. Those two will scrap for the trophy until April or even May, as both Madrid and Piraeus look like the championship contenders we thought they would be.
Lorbek, now with Barca, is an All-Euroleague performer and was very close to joining the Spurs this offseason, while Velickovic – now 26 and teamless – has watched injuries knock his once-promising career into an incessant wobble.