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Pau Gasol announces he’ll play for Bulls

Updated: July 13, 2014 5:30PM

LAS VEGAS — It didn’t have the drama of a first-person, heartfelt essay for a major magazine, but LeBron James is a hard act to follow.

Instead, free-agent big man Pau Gasol announced Saturday afternoon on Twitter that he would join the Bulls.

‘‘It hasn’t been easy,’’ Gasol wrote. ‘‘After meditating it a lot I’ve chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career.’’

The 34-year-old 7-footer will have an immediate impact on the Bulls’ offense. For his career, he has averaged 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

But Gasol, who won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, also will affect the salary cap. According to a source, the Bulls were unable to get a sign-and-trade done, so Gasol’s addition was a direct signing.

Terms are undisclosed until Gasol passes a physical and the Bulls can make it official.

General manager Gar Forman was very busy the last 48 hours trying to move the Carlos Boozer contract and then picking up the pieces after being jilted by free agent Carmelo Anthony.

It was reported that the Anthony camp contacted the Bulls early Saturday morning to let them know Anthony was returning to the New York Knicks on an estimated five-year, $122  million contract. Because of cap space and the Knicks’ ability to give Anthony a max deal, the Bulls were about $47  million short.

There’s very little Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can talk about until all deals get NBA approval, but he said he thought the pitch the Bulls made to Anthony on July 1 was a strong one, with Bulls players Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson involved in recruiting Anthony.

‘‘They did a great job,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘And that’s the way it is today in the NBA. The players all know each other. They’re all going to be talking to each other. And then everybody has to do what’s best for themselves.’’

Forman’s reaction to the Anthony news was quick, especially with Gasol also in talks with the San Antonio Spurs. Gasol agreed in principle early in the afternoon while the Bulls searched for a third team for a sign-and-trade after they couldn’t make a deal with the Lakers. But it wasn’t to be.

The need for Gasol’s scoring ability in the post, the pick-and-roll and at mid-range was too pressing for the Bulls to drag their feet, and the sides came together.

So now what?

Unless a mystery team swoops in, the Bulls will have to release Boozer with the amnesty provision, clearing his $16.8  million off their cap by Wednesday. Boozer, who spent four seasons with the Bulls, would then be placed on waivers, leaving teams with cap space the option to bid to pick up a portion of the contract.

The Bulls will keep their attention on Nikola Mirotic, continuing negotiations to bring the European star over from the Spanish League.


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