Pau Gasol opts out
Although with a healthy Kawhi Leonard, you could make an argument that the San Antonio Spurs are already the closest to competing with the Golden State Warriors, there’s no debating that the Spurs could use one more significant piece to tip the scale and truly topple them. Of course, there’s been plenty of mention of the Spurs possibly pursuing Chris Paul this offseason and while that certainly could be exactly what they need, financially it’s going to be tough to add him.
One of the dominoes that had to fall to create the cap space necessary for them to do so, however, was for Pau Gasol to opt out of his $16.2 million contract to give the Spurs more financial flexibility. And as luck would have it for San Antonio, that’s exactly what he did today.
According the The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Pau Gasol will decline his player option but also intend to work with the Spurs to remain with the team on a smaller (and most likely lengthier) deal. In other words, add Pau Gasol to the Spurs’ long list of savvy veterans that they’ve once again convinced to take a discount to stay on a contending squad. There’s a reason why San Antonio has been so good for so long.
This doesn’t exactly have a huge bearing for the Jazz, other than if Gasol’s unselfishness helps them create the cap space to add a big-name free agent such as Paul, then the Jazz may find themselves up against two behemoths in the West, namely the Warriors and the Spurs, rather than just one.
Or if Paul actually isn’t a priority for the Spurs or on the off chance that they fail to entice him, either way with Gasol opting out, San Antonio will have more flexibility to pursue other free agents this offseason. And although it’s likely little more than speculation, Hayward has been loosely mentioned in connection with the Spurs this offseason and if he is still available, could end up being a backup plan of sorts for them.
I don’t consider it a high risk and there’s still plenty more San Antonio needs to do to be able to afford a max guy, but it remains a possibility that Jazz fans ought to be aware of.