If Love goes to Bulls, what's Gasol's role?


CHICAGO -- Lost amid all the speculation revolving around Kevin Love's possible relocation to Chicago is the fact Love's arrival would have a direct impact on the Bulls' biggest offseason acquisition to date: Pau Gasol.

With Love in the fold alongside Joakim Noah, Gasol likely would be the odd man out of the starting lineup. Neither Love nor Gasol has ever been known as a great defender, so there's little chance that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would decide to play all three together to start games.

Gasol is signed for three years and made it clear during his introductory news conference that he believes the Bulls can compete for a title and he still has plenty left in the tank.

By all accounts, Gasol is a solid teammate and the type of player who will fit in well with any locker room. But how would he handle coming off the bench on the back end of a storied career? If he knew the Bulls were going to add Love, would that have changed his thought process in free agency?

When former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni decided to use Gasol in a reserve role at times during the 2012-13 season, the former All-Star expressed his displeasure.

"I'm not excited about it," Gasol told reporters after a loss to the Bulls in January of 2013. "It's not something that I've ever [done], coming off the bench. But right now I'm more worried about us as a team and us struggling, so it would be selfish of me talking about how I feel of something in particular."

The end of that quote may prove to be the most important for Gasol and the Bulls moving forward. He's also proven to be a team player in the past and would be best served leading the second unit in this scenario. Love is just 25 years old and is one of the best players in the game. Gasol could still be an important member of a championship-caliber team, he just wouldn't hear his name called at the beginning of games.

After losing out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency, the Bulls made the right move to go after Gasol as a contingency plan. Now that Love remains stuck in limbo in Minnesota, the Bulls are making the right play by continuing to go after him. If the Timberwolves accepted a deal for Love of Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, as Sheridanhoops.com reported earlier this week, Gasol would fortify a group off the bench that would still be strong. Gasol, Tony Snell or Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks would be at Thibodeau's disposal in what would remain a deep roster.

Gasol surely wouldn't be happy coming off the bench, but if Love were to come to Chicago then Gasol should take solace in the fact he would be on a better team than even he could have imagined when he signed his Bulls contract last week.