Sources told ESPN.com that Gasol is giving strong consideration to signing with defending champion San Antonio -- despite the Spurs' limited financial resources with such a deep roster -- in the event that the Bulls can't strike a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Lakers for Gasol.
The Bulls are making Carlos Boozer widely available in trade discussions, but sources say the Lakers have shown a reluctance in talks with Chicago to take on Boozer's contract unless they also receive a young asset back from the Bulls as well.
Oklahoma City has been pursuing Gasol as hard as anyone, but sources indicated Friday that the Spurs have joined the Bulls ahead of the Thunder in Gasol's pecking order.
The Thunder have a $6.5 million trade exception that expires Friday night at 11:59 p.m., that they hoped to use in their own sign-and-trade with L.A.
The Lakers, meanwhile, appear resigned to seeing Gasol exit after successful six seasons together. Prior to Friday, the Lakers offered Gasol two deals: two years worth $23 million, and three years worth $29 million, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin. Gasol turned down both offers, according to the source.
The Bulls quickly established Gasol as their top free-agent target in the event they miss out on Carmelo Anthony, who is deciding between New York and Chicago, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
The Knicks, meanwhile, had been trying to trade Amar'e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani in hopes of clearing sufficient salary-cap space to convince Gasol to come to New York to play alongside a re-signed Anthony. But sources said Friday night that the Knicks, like the Thunder and Lakers, appeared to be out of contention.
Making hard runs at free agents is not something seen often from the Thunder, but Gasol has been lobbied face-to-face by OKC stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as well as coach Scott Brooks and general manager Sam Presti since free agency began.