CLEVELAND – The Bulls want to keep Pau Gasol in a Bulls uniform beyond this season.
General manager Gar Forman made that very clear to reporters on Thursday after the trade deadline passed with Gasol staying put.
The problem is the organization only has 29 regular-season games left to make sure the feeling is mutual.
The 35-year-old Gasol again reiterated that he will exercise his player option this offseason, opting out to become a free agent, and while the Bulls were the front-runners to retain his services the veteran had no problem admitting that this organization is on trial from here on out.
“How these [29 regular-season] games play out will give me information of how I want to … or how my decision will be influenced for sure,’’ Gasol said. “How we handle this situation and if we’re able to overcome it, get more together and united and stronger or we give up or are content with it. Because that tells a lot, it tells you a lot about the character of a team and the people you are around with.’’
And not just his teammates.
Gasol will be judging everything. From moves the front office makes this summer when the payroll goes up, all the way to what he continues to see from first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.
“Some, a little, but some,’’ Gasol responded, when asked if the coaching change from Tom Thibodeau to Hoiberg would factor into his decision. “I think the coaching position is an important position. I’ve played for many coaches, I’ve been through many coaching changes throughout my career, and I knew this season was going to be a little of a transition, adjusting to the new philosophy, which is pretty different from what we had last year.
“So that was going to have an impact, but I couldn’t control that impact. Again, it was out of my control. So you have to keep that in mind, but I don’t think that will be a downside in this situation.’’
The way Gasol sees it is there was still unfinished business with the Bulls, and while he is loyal to that idea he won’t be handcuffed to it.
“Things really haven’t turned out the way I wanted them to,’’ Gasol said. “But at the same time, there are things that I couldn’t anticipate. All I can do is continue to give my best.
“And I do still believe we can still turn this thing around a little bit or a lot and put ourselves in a good position. Whatever happens this summer, I don’t know. Then it will be more of a process of evaluation wherever I am to make the best decision for the last few years of my career.’’