Pau Gasol: Bulls hungry to win

Updated: July 18, 2014, 9:42 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Pau Gasol says he prioritized joining a championship contender over money in choosing the Chicago Bulls as a free agent and believes his new team is "hungry" to win.

"Money obviously wasn't the priority here," said Gasol, who was introduced by the Bulls on Friday at the United Center. "I turned down bigger offers, and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can hopefully put that team over the top with my game, as well. I felt that here, I was going to have that opportunity, and now it's just a matter of getting to work."

[+] EnlargeBulls
AP Photo/M. Spencer GreenThe Bulls introduced Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol on Friday at the United Center.

Gasol, one of the most coveted free agents on the market, drew interest from the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, among others. He signed a three-year contract worth more than $22 million, according to sources.

He joins a Bulls team that was all in on the pursuit of prized free agent Carmelo Anthony, but it quickly shifted to Plan B -- Gasol -- when it appeared that Anthony would re-sign with the Knicks for a max contract.

Gasol said he was impressed with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, who were both in on the pitch to land the four-time All-Star.

Gasol, 34, praised "how humble they are, being able to not have big egos makes things a lot easier. Their passion and hunger, as well, they're hungry to win. I want to be a part of a hungry team that will do whatever it takes."

In addition to Bulls team officials, owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Noah and forward Mike Dunleavy, Gasol said he wanted to speak to Rose, the former MVP who has missed most of the past two seasons with knee injuries and has long maintained he is uncomfortable recruiting players to Chicago.

"I talked to Derrick on the phone," Gasol said. "I wanted to talk to him, because he's a big part of this team, and I wanted to see how he felt physically and with having me on board. It was very encouraging for me."

Gasol joins the Bulls after six-plus seasons with the Lakers, which included two championships. He averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games for Los Angeles last season.

The Bulls hope Gasol can be a mentor to their other significant offseason addition, forward Nikola Mirotic, whom the Bulls also introduced Friday.

Mirotic, 23, signed a three-year, $18 million contract, with the Bulls permitted to give him $600,000 to help pay off his buyout from Real Madrid, sources said. Since it has been three years since he was drafted, he is no longer bound to a rookie scale contract.

"It's a pleasure to have that opportunity for me," Mirotic said Friday. "Since I have been drafted in 2011, I have watched many games of the Bulls', and I've always dreamt about the moment of being here and playing with them. And now that I'm here, I'll work as hard as possible to get the most out of it and the most victories next season."

The Bulls acquired the rights to Mirotic in a draft-day trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011, sending two picks, including one used on Norris Cole, to land the 6-foot-10 forward, who was selected with the 23rd overall pick.

Mirotic averaged 12.4 points in 31 games with Real Madrid of of the Liga ACB last season, shooting 50.8 from the field and 46.1 percent from three-point range.

"It was a difficult decision to make, especially because of the personal moment I was leaving behind in Madrid, for everything at the end of the year, when we didn't win a title," Mirotic said. "Everyone thought I would stay one more year in Madrid because the Final Four in the Euroleague was going to be in Madrid next year. But I felt this was the adequate moment was right now, this year, both for me personally and especially because I would get a chance to improve more as a basketball player over here and because I was absolutely sure I could adapt to Chicago Bulls and the NBA game in the first year.

"It played a key role, the fact that the Chicago Bulls had so much interest in me and tried so hard to get me. I valued that and made the decision to come early."

ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell and Jon Greenberg contributed to this report.

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