Pau Gasol didn’t come cheap.
On the surface, $14.5 million over the first two years of his contract with a third-year player option at $7.7 million seems like a steal, but there was a cost by the organization in paying Carlos Boozer to simply just go away.
Using the amnesty clause so they could even make room for Gasol, Boozer was paid $13.5 million while playing for the Lakers this season. It didn’t count against the Bulls cap, but it was still a check that had to be written.
As the first two playoffs games have shown, worth every cent.
Gasol is only 9-for-29 (.310 shooting percentage) in both wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, but is getting double-teamed on almost every possession, and has been huge with his unselfishness.
“It’s great value,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Gasol’s play so far. “That’s winning basketball. Sometimes, an inexperienced guy would try to take on the double-team and take tough shots to get their points. Pau’s going to make the right play. When the second defender comes, he’s going to hit the open man. Hopefully, we have good ball movement and good rhythm and we can make some shots.’’
Through the first two games in the best-of-seven series, the ball movement was more than good. Of the 69 field goals made, the Bulls have 56 assists, and while Gasol only has seven of those assists, it’s his initial pass out of the double-team that has seemingly started that stellar ball movement.
“It’s great having him,’’ guard Derrick Rose said of Gasol. “With the way that they’re double-teaming him, they’re not even allowing him to get a good shot off. They’re coming right away, so it’s easy basketball. Two swings to an open shot, that’s the easiest shot that you can get when they’re double-teaming like that.
“It says a lot about his character as far as he’ll do anything to win. He knows that they’re coming right away, he’s not complaining about shots, he’s not worrying about playing so many minutes. He just wants to win the game.’’
More on Gasol
Besides being huge for the Bulls on the court, Gasol was named the 2014-15 recipient of the Magic Johnson Award on Wednesday, presented annually by the Professional; Basketball Writers Association to the NBA player that shows excellence in dealing with both the fans and the media.
“I try to help other people do their jobs well,’’ Gasol said. “I understand my position and that this is a part of our jobs. So I always try to be kind and polite, even when I’m not feeling great or I might be upset because of the loss, but I understand that it’s still part of my job to be one of the team’s leaders and role models to kind of stand up and share my thoughts when I need.’’