The Knicks are expected to go after the younger Gasol during next year’s free agent period, as they will have well over $20 million in salary cap space to spend after the contracts of forward Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani come off the books. Six other players that are currently on the Knicks roster have contracts that expire after this season.
“We’ll see what happens next year, what he decides. Hopefully he’ll have a strong year and all the options in the world, because he’s one of the top centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him,” Gasol told The New York Post.
Gasol, who signed a three-year, $22 million contract with Chicago in the offseason, said he considered going to the Knicks because of the presence of his former coach Phil Jackson and former teammate Derek Fisher, who are now part of the franchise as president and coach, respectively. He says he would have taken an even bigger pay cut to play in New York after making $19.3 million with the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
The 29-year-old younger Gasol, the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has averaged 13.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in his six NBA seasons.
“It’s a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table," Pau Gasol, 34, said. "I don’t know how much he’s involved in the team, really. He’s in an upstairs position, management position. He’s not on the court every day, so it’s something that [his brother will] consider when he gets to that point.”
The younger Gasol scored 32 points and also had nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks in team's 105-101 opening game victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
- Scooby Axson