Pau Gasol viewed as 'core' piece for Bulls, GM Gar Forman says

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Saturday, February 20, 2016

CLEVELAND -- Pau Gasol started Thursday wondering whether he would remain a Bull for the rest of the day. He ended Thursday believing that he was a piece of the organization's future.

In what turned out to be a bit of a surprise given all the trade rumors surrounding his next potential destination, Gasol was not dealt before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.

Gasol knew there was a chance that he may be traded to the Sacramento Kings, as had been speculated for days, but a deal never materialized.

Once the deadline passed, the larger surprise was that Bulls general manager Gar Forman's declaration that the 35-year-old big man will be a long-term fixture to the Bulls' roster.

"We see him as a big piece of what we're doing today and in the future," Forman told in a telephone interview.

Forman made it clear that getting Gasol locked up to a new deal in the summer -- after he is expected to opt out of his current deal after this season -- will be one of the Bulls' goals as they try to reconstruct a roster that has been underwhelming all season.

After the Bulls' fifth consecutive loss, a 106-95 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gasol seemed pleased that he was staying in Chicago.

"If they didn't trade me, the assumption is that they would like to keep me, right?" Gasol said. "Otherwise they would have traded me and get some value in return. So I assume that that's their mindset, and that's good to know. That's just something that you like to hear and you like to know."

Gasol said after Thursday's shootaround that he hoped to stay in Chicago, a city he has really enjoyed living in since signing with the Bulls during the 2014 free agency period. He did admit that how the Bulls deal with their recent losing skid -- they've now lost 14 of their last 19 games -- and how they perform down the stretch will have an impact in his decision.

Forman said his decision not to move Gasol ultimately came down to the fact that the front office didn't believe it was getting enough value in the short term or the long term.

"We value Pau," Forman said. "And Pau wasn't shopped. We see him as part of our core."