The Oklahoma City Thunder made their pitch to free agent forward Pau Gasol yesterday, and according to reports, they’re now the front runners in the race. The Thunder contingent who visited Gasol in Los Angeles yesterday included Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season, and would be a tremendous addition to the Thunder, who could use a secondary scorer behind Durant and Westbrook, especially someone with a skill set as versatile as Gasol’s. The challenge for the Thunder is that they’re not equipped with cap space to make a large offer to Gasol, who can probably command up to $12 million per season on the open market, if not more.
The trade-off for Gasol should he accept something like the mid-level exception in Oklahoma City would be the chance to play for a contender again, which the Lakers have not been the past several seasons. This would be a huge coup for the Thunder, and they know very well how important adding depth to their team is, especially after dealing with Serge Ibaka’s injury at the start of the Western Conference Finals.
The Spurs and Heat are both in the mix, and the Bulls are expected to meet with Gasol as well. So this race is far from over, but if Gasol is willing to accept a little less money, Oklahoma City makes a lot of sense as his next destination.
Follow me on Twitter @steven_lebron