LILLE, France –- Pau Gasol has finally caught up with Fred Hoiberg -- on the other side of the Pond. He got personal confirmation that the Chicago Bulls will look a little different when the new NBA season begins next month.
Gasol, who led Spain into the quarterfinals of EuroBasket Saturday by scoring 30 points in an 80-66 defeat of Poland, got the chance to meet his new coach in person when Hoiberg traveled to Madrid ahead of the championships to sit down with Gasol and his teammate for club and country, Nikola Mirotic.
It wasn’t, the five-time All-Star confirmed, the only such conversation Hoiberg has had with the Bulls' players since he arrived from Iowa State to replace Tom Thibodeau in June.
“He’s definitely reached out to players, to everyone on the team personally,” Gasol revealed. “Obviously he’s got great credentials from different people. He wants us to play at a higher pace, with more flow, more freedom.”
At 35, Gasol isn’t showing any signs of slowing down with Spain at EuroBasket where he has been averaging a tournament-high 23 points per game while playing center in the absence of his brother Marc, moving into fourth place in the all-time tournament scoring list.
But where does that leave him in the revised uptempo offense Hoiberg has talked of implementing when training camp opens in a few weeks time?
“Individually, we’ll see,” Gasol said. “I don’t know exactly. I’m just going to try and bring what I usually bring and do my best to help our team have a better chance to fight for the championship.”
Wherever he was watching Spain’s victory over Poland, Hoiberg will have liked seeing Gasol go 6 of 7 from 3-point range, a long-range strategy adopted after he experienced some leg issues in warmups.
“I went back to the locker room to see what was going on,” he said. “I was able to feel better once the trainer worked on my leg.
"Fortunately it didn’t get worse. But I wasn’t as explosive on getting to the basket so I had to settle for outside shots. Luckily most of the shots went in and it kind of worked out.”