Thursday, July 3, 2014
Phil Jackson puts in call to Pau Gasol
By Ian Begley
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has reached out to free agent Pau Gasol, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.
Jackson contacted Gasol via phone. Jackson’s interest in Gasol is intriguing for Knicks fans, but it should be noted that Gasol made $19 million last season and the Knicks only have $3.3 million to offer him in free agency. So he would have to agree to a substantial paycut to join the Knicks.
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New York will have plenty of competition for Gasol’s services.
Oklahoma City has emerged as a favorite to land him. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook met with Gasol, and the Thunder made a strong pitch to the Spanish big man, sources told ESPN.com.
Dallas, Golden State, Miami and Chicago have all expressed interest in Gasol.
The Knicks may be able to offer Gasol more than $3.3 million per season.
If the Knicks can cut some payroll from their current roster by trading away salary to a team with the cap space to absorb it, there is a chance they could become eligible for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. This exception would allow them to offer Gasol a salary starting at $5 million per season.
Gasol and Jackson are close so the center might be willing to give Jackson a discount. Gasol won two titles under Jackson in Los Angeles and thrived in the Zen Master’s triangle offense.
The Lakers center also told Yahoo! Sports in April that he’d be willing to listen if Jackson wanted to talk to him about coming to New York.
"I'm happy for him and the position that he got," Gasol said. "I'm always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen."
Gasol has also said that he'd be open to playing for less money on a contender next season.