The Milwaukee Bucks are starting to prepare for the playoffs, with Pau Gasol now coming aboard after being bought out.
The deadline for NBA players to be bought out and be playoff-eligible for a new team was on Friday, with no notable action on that front for most of the day. Pau Gasol agreed to a buyout with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday afternoon, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the veteran big man will sign with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Gasol is averaging career-lows in points (4.2), rebounds (4.7) and minutes (12.2) per game this season. He missed 26 games with a stress fracture in his foot, which has played a big part in a diminished role for the 38-year old.
The Bucks have the NBA’s best record right now, at 47-14, so they are a lock to make the playoffs and it would be an upset if they aren’t one of the top two or three seeds in the East. But they lack championship experience on a roster built around Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Gasol has 136 career playoff games and two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers on his resume.
Milwaukee was in the market for a big man, with Marc Stein of the New York Times reporting earlier Friday they had some interest in Marcin Gortat.
There’s not a substantial difference in box score stats, as Gortat averaged 5.0 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Los Angeles Clippers this season before being waived last month. But the Bucks have clearly gone a better direction by bringing in Gasol, in terms of accepting a role in the name of winning and serving a veteran mentor.
Just two seasons ago Gasol was nearly a 54 percent shooter from 3-point range, on a fair amount of volume (104 attempts), and in his prime he was considered one of the best passing big men in the league. His assist rate is still high (20.3 percent this season), but his volume from beyond the arc (10 attempts in 27 games this season) has dried up.
After adding Nikola Mirotic at the trade deadline, any consistent on-court contribution from Gasol will be considered a bonus by the Bucks. But they’ve fortified themselves behind the scenes, in another move made with a deep playoff run in mind this year.