After all the recruiting pitches are done, the billboards are taken down and the contracts have been offered, sometimes choosing a destination for an NBA player simply comes down to a gut feeling.
That was the case with Pau Gasol, who Saturday tweeted that he agreed to a deal with the Bulls. That deal is worth a reported $22 million over three years (with a player option in Year 3), and is less than what the Los Angeles Lakers (two years, $20 million) and Atlanta Hawks ($11 million per season) reportedly were offering the 34-year-old Spaniard. And while taking less money comes as a bit of a surprise, for Gasol it was all about that feeling that Chicago was the right place for him.
"Instinct told me to pick Chicago," he said, according to ESPN. "Without doubt, (Chicago) is one of the championship favorites in the East alongside Cleveland."
Gasol said he chose the Bulls over two of the favorites in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. And while those two teams may be closer to a championship than the Bulls, after 14 years in the NBA Gasol said he realized that "nothing is guaranteed. I'm happy with my choice."
The agreement between the Gasol and the Bulls came shortly after free agent Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls' top target in free agency, announced he would be re-signing with the Knicks. And while the Bulls weren't able to land Anthony, Gasol will give them depth inside to replace Carlos Boozer, who is expected to be amnestied if the front office can not find a trade partner. It began what became a busy weekend for the Bulls, which also came to an agreement with 2011 first-rounder Nikola Mirotic and Kirk Hinrich.
Gasol, the only international player to ever win Rookie of the Year, will be an important mentor for Mirotic, a 23-year-old stretch forward with a similar skill set to that of Gasol (with 3-point range). According to the article Gasol believes Mirotic can "make an immediate impact" on a Bulls team that won 48 games last year and will get a healthy Derrick Rose back in the lineup, in addition to first-round pick Doug McDermott.
Gasol, a two-time NBA champion, averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games for the Lakers last year. He was one of three players last year to average at least 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists per game (Blake Griffin, Kevin Love).