Free Agency...Pau Gasol Update
By Randy Renner
Well just when everyone was thinking all the Pau Gasol to OKC chatter on Monday was just nothing but Crazy Town talk comes word from highly respected ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne who's covered sports in LA for years.
Shelburne reported Wednesday evening that the Thunder were now the likely "front runners" to get the big Spaniard.
Shelburne tweeted that Oklahoma City had "come on strong," in an effort to obtain Gasol's services.
Just yesterday ESPN's Marc Stein reported it would be "highly unlikely" for the Thunder to be able to make a deal for Gasol.
So something has changed. At the moment, since the Thunder are over the salary cap, they can only offer their Mid-Level Exception which is worth about $5.3 million. Gasol was believed to have been angling for around twice that much.
It's certainly possible he could give the Thunder a discount for the chance to be on a team with good friend and Spanish National Teammate Serge Ibaka not to mention Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
You would also think that bringing in Gasol would mean amnesty for Kendrick Perkins or perhaps a trade. Moving Perkins and his $9.1 million salary for next season would come very close to putting the Thunder under the projected salary cap which would give them more flexibility in what they could offer Gasol.
If that happened they could then use their MLE on Mike Miller.
The final numbers on the salary cap for next season and exactly where the luxury tax line will be won't be known for a few more days.
The other issue is exactly how long any contracts for Gasol and Miller would be. Miller has said he wants at least three years and would prefer four. Gasol's thinking isn't known for sure.
The Thunder would probably prefer to avoid anything over two years with older players so they can have as much room as possible to do a new deal for Kevin Durant.
So there are still a lot of moving parts to all this but bringing in either Gasol or Miller will certainly make this a very interesting summer.