Pau Gasol Is On His Way To The Bulls; Time To See If Thibs Can Coach An Offense

So long, Pau’s Laker friends. (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Pau Gasol is headed to the Chicago Bulls.

In these virgin stages, with fresh reports about Pau taking $6.5 million per year in order to once again compete for a championship, we can fantasize about an NBA entity we have yet to observe: an imaginative Tom Thibodeau offense.

Thibs’ Chicago tenure has been incredibly impressive overall, but so far his guiding hand has mostly affected the Bulls defensively. On the other end of the floor, Chiacgo has been mostly confined to Derrick Rose brilliance when Rose has been healthy, and very little when he hasn’t. Even as Joakim Noah emerged last season as a high post playmaking savant, the Bulls coughed and wheezed en route to the league’s 3rd worse offense. Their playoff series against the Wizards was a nightmare cocktail of D.J. Augustin suicide missions and brickedy pain.

Gasol can change that. Although past his prime, Pau is still an effective offense player. But more than that, he is conducive to creativity and motion. He duplicates Noah as a phenomenal high post passer, is respectable (if declining) from both the post and mid-range, and can be trusted making basketball decisions. If previous Bulls squads lacked non-Rose creators, Pau gives them yet another player who can actively seek the more passive scorers in Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell.

More than anything, though, Pau is a fun test for Thidodeau himself. Ever since Rose went down, recent Chicago offenses have leaned a bit too heavily towards decrying poor talent rather than utilizing the skills available on the roster. Luol Deng led outfits could conceivably max out at 20th rather than 28th, but that’s splitting hairs – in a league that usually requires legitimate contenders approach top 10 status on both sides. Heavy dependance on a given year’s diminutive backup point guard (Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin) is hardly a creative solution, but what is a Thibs to do?

With Rose once again poised for a return, Noah’s huge strides and Pau’s offensive arsenal, it seems a Thibs can do quite a bit. And that’s important for his long-term prospects. Thibs is hardly in danger of losing employment, but coaches who have won championships – which should be the goal – are rare and short on weaknesses. Amid concerns about over-extending players and peaking during regular season, this season is time for us to figure out if Thibs’ offensive playbook is a fatal flaw in his coaching acumen or simply a circumstantial part of basketball.

Noam Schiller

Noam Schiller lives in Jerusalem, where he sifts through League Pass Broadband delay and insomnia in a misguided effort to watch as much basketball as possible. He usually fails miserably, but is entertained nonetheless. He prefers passing big men to rebounding guards but sees no reason why he should have to compromise on any of them.

  • p.rob.

    GOOD LUCK on Gasol and DEFENSE they go together like Water on a Grease Fire..nuthin good comes out of it.

  • No, Lets See If Gasol Can Learn Defense!!!

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  • hookedonnews

    Will be interesting to see how Gasol reacts to a coach like Thibodeau. He might be getting more than he bargained for. I think it’s pretty obvious that Thibs is offensively challenged. Maybe having a player like Gasol will help him. Should be interesting.

  • Graham Strouse

    We’ll have to see. So far Thibs is kinda looking like the Buddy Ryan of basketball. Brilliant at defensive coordination but so so bright when it comes to everything else.