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Reports: Bulls, Gasol Nearing Deal

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Pau Gasol. (Getty Images)

Pau Gasol. (Getty Images)

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(CBS) The Bulls and free agent big man Pau Gasol are nearing a deal, multiple outlets reported late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

So far, the Bulls and Lakers, Gasol’s former team, haven’t struck a sign-and-trade deal, but that’d be Chicago’s preference because it would then retain its mid-level exception to use on Nikola Mirotic or another player. After spending on Nick Young and Jordan Hill yesterday, Los Angeles has shown no willingness to take on the $16.8 million contract of Carlos Boozer in a sign-and-trade, but Chicago could potentially get the deal done by moving Mike Dunleavy and the non-guaranteed deals of Mike James, Ronnie Brewer and Lou Amundsen.

In that case, the Bulls could offer Gasol a little more than $9 million per year.

The specifics of the contract talks aren’t yet known, but ESPN.com reported that Gasol turned down offers of three years and $29 million and two years and $23 million from the Lakers.

The 34-year-old Gasol has had some injury problems the past few seasons and declined defensively, but he remains a unique talent offensively, with an array of post moves, the ability to hit the mid-range jumper and deft passing touch — exactly the type of player the Bulls lack down low. He averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season.

Chicago could also use the amnesty provision on Boozer and have about $10 million in cap space to sign Gasol with, though that would limit the flexibility to add other pieces.

While acquiring Gasol wouldn’t eliminate the Bulls from the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, it would make it harder to acquire him — and it can be read as an indication they expect him to re-sign with the Knicks.

Update: Anthony chooses Knicks over Bulls

Using cap space to sign both Gasol and Anthony would be impossible, and using cap space to sign Gasol would take away Anthony’s threat/leverage against New York of walking to Chicago, meaning the Knicks would have no reason to engage in sign-and-trade talks.

If the Chicago obtained Gasol in a sign-and-trade to remain over the cap, it could still potentially sign-and-trade for Anthony too, but that’d be difficult because the Knicks have shown no interest in Boozer and there’d be fewer sign-and-trade pieces for the Bulls to send out.

A sign-and-trade of Gasol would also still leave open the path of amnestying Boozer and signing Anthony with cap space, but if the Bulls take more money back in the Gasol deal than they send out, that’d be less money to offer Anthony — who’d already be making a huge financial concession to choose Chicago.

Of course, the Bulls could then look to move Taj Gibson, but that’s not something they want to do. They consider him an integral piece to a championship chase.

New York has made a max offer of five years and $129 million. Without Gasol in the picture and by keeping Gibson, Chicago could offer Anthony a four-year deal worth about $73 million, the Chicago Tribune has reported.

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