Free agent center Pau Gasol fielded phone calls Wednesday from three major NBA championship contenders (Heat, Spurs and Thunder) and apparently will be mulling offers from those teams and perhaps others this week.
It’s no secret that Gasol, who averaged 17.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 60 games with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, has been one of the Heat’s top targets during free agency. His phone call from Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday isn’t expected to be the last.
If possible, the Heat would like to use its full midlevel exception on Gasol ($5.3 million per season) to add some size inside to go along with Chris Bosh. The Heat ranked 30th in the NBA in rebounding last season.
“Lots of phone calls from teams that are interested in me to be a key part of their goals,” Gasol tweeted on Wednesday. “A lot to be considered. #FreeAgency.”
The Spaniard then added a little humor to Wednesday’s Twitter madness: “Having options is a good ‘problem’ to have,” he wrote. “I’m fortunate to have them. Listening to classical to relax. #FreeAgency.”
Gasol uploaded a picture of classical composer Frédéric Chopin with his tweet.
The Heat has been working the free agency phones since 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Other targets include forward Trevor Ariza, who played last season for the Wizards, and point guard Kyle Lowry, who played for the Raptors. Lowry agreed to a new contract with Toronto Wednesday night.
The immediacy of Twitter has added to the free agency buzz over the past two days, and local sports-talk radio shows have latched on to the constant stream of information. There have been some pretty interesting reports along the way.
For example, Dan Le Batard, citing nothing except perhaps his excellent sense of humor, reported on his radio show that the Heat was interested in Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. That’s the same Stephenson who was threatened verbally by Udonis Haslem during the playoffs, called LeBron James a choker in 2012 and also said he wanted to injure Dwyane Wade’s knees in the most recent Eastern Conference finals.
For an idea of just how volatile the early days of free agency can become, consider this: On Wednesday, ESPN.com reported, according to unnamed sources, that Wade and Bosh were unsure of James’ plans for free agency. Earlier in the week, ESPN.com reported that the Big 3 were indeed working together in opting out of their contracts in order to give Riley time and money to rebuild the roster. A report out of Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday said Bosh would sign a deal starting at $11 million a season and Wade at $12 million.
According to other reports, James is seeking a maximum contract from the Heat, with Bosh and Wade restructuring their deals to make room for a new free agent or two.