NBA free agency: 30 greatest free agent signings in NBA history

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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NBA Free Agency
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Greatest free agency signings in NBA history: 22. Pau Gasol- Chicago Bulls, 2014

When the Bulls signed future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol to a three-year, $22 million deal in 2014, they thought they got the final piece of the championship puzzle. With the disappointing Carlos Boozer gone thanks to the amnesty provision and with Derrick Rose presumably healthy following devastating knee injuries in consecutive seasons, the highly-skilled Gasol hope to be the guy who could give the team the final push they needed to get to the Finals.

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. For his part, Gasol continued to put up All-Star numbers; his 18.5 points and 11.8 boards per night paired well with his 22.7 PER and .187 WS/48. Unfortunately, aside from Jimmy Butler’s breakout season, everything else around him began to crumble.

Sure, the Bulls won 50 games that year — a year that ended in the second round thanks to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs — but their regular season success was a tarp that covered some underlying issues. Among the problems: Joakim Noah started showing the signs of wear and tear, Rose never returned to his MVP self and suffered another knee injury towards the end of the season, and Tom Thibodeau finally wore out his welcome as head coach.

This being the GarPax-era Bulls, things got worse under Thibs’ replacement, Fred Hoiberg, the next season. With virtually the same roster, albeit one that was antithetical to Hoiberg’s offensive philosophy, the Bulls dropped to 42-40 and missed the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. Again, Gasol put up solid numbers, finishing with a 21.7 PER and .149 WS/48, but there’s only so much one person can do.