Why isn’t Chicago Bulls big man Pau Gasol getting criticized for hinting at next contract?


The calendar just switched over to December, yet Chicago Bulls big man Pau Gasol is already worrying about his next contract.

Maybe it is the unseasonably warm weather that has Chicago Bulls veteran big man Pau Gasol already thinking about what he is going to do with his player option next summer.

After the Chicago Bulls 99-90 win against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Pau Gasol said that he was already thinking about his plans for next season. In an interview with CSN-Chicago after the game, Gasol said it is “very likely” that he will opt-out of his current contract at the end of the season in order to become an unrestricted free agent.

"As long as I keep playing like this. I know I’ll have some options. —-Quote obtained by CSN-Chicago reporter Vincent Goodwill"

During the summer of 2014, Pau Gasol signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Bulls worth an approximate $22 million. The team provided him with a player option at the end of this season meaning he can opt-out of his current contract and become an unrestricted free agent during the summer or continue playing for the Bulls for the previously agreed-upon salary figure.

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According to Draft Express writer Jonathan Givony, the NBA salary cap will rise to $89 million during the 2016-2017 season with the luxury tax line set at $108 million. A higher salary cap and luxury tax line means bigger contracts for free agents this summer. However, should Gasol have publicly stated his desire to tap into this money when he doesn’t have to make a final decision on the matter for another six or seven months?

Remember the last time that a Chicago Bulls player mentioned something about his next contract? It was point guard Derrick Rose and the media crucified him for his comments.

During Chicago Bulls media day at the end of September, Derrick Rose stirred up controversy when he mentioned that he was looking forward to becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

The most peculiar aspect of Rose’s comments was the context. A question regarding how he has moved on from his sexual assault allegations during the summer prompted him to begin talking about his next contract. Rose’s comments angered people because he spent more time sitting on the bench the past three seasons than playing in games. His lack of recent production made it unwise to talk about his plans for a future contract. The same concept applies to Pau Gasol.

Nov 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) dribbles the ball against San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) during the second half at the United Center. The Bulls defeat the Spurs 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season, Gasol has produced some of the lowest scoring numbers of his career. His 14.7 points per game average ranks as the second lowest of his career and his effective shooting percentage of 43.7 percent is almost four percentage points lower than his previous career low. He has struggled to score around the bucket, averaging 58.2 percent from 0-3 feet from the basket which is a career low and 39.1 percent from three to ten feet from the basket which is the second lowest percentage of his career. The majority of his shot attempts this season came from between 16 feet from the basket and the 3-point line which is problematic and may explain the low shooting percentage.

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Before Gasol even begins to think about his future plans, he needs to improve his play this season. The same goes for Derrick Rose as well.

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This situation also highlights how much of a scapegoat Derrick Rose has become to the Chicago media and fans. In principle, both Rose and Gasol said similar things: they are looking forward to getting paid in free agency. Although Rose’s comments were more egregious both in content and context, if Rose garnered criticism for his comments it seems unfair that nobody batted an eye when Gasol talked about essentially the same topic in a gentler manner.