The Spanish newspaper Marca first reported late Friday that the Bulls were closing in on a deal with Gasol despite the absence of a sign-and-trade agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sources close to the situation told Shelburne late Friday that a sign-and-trade arrangement had not been struck, with the Lakers still looking for draft compensation -- as they received in Friday's earlier trade with the Houston Rockets to take back the contract of Jeremy Lin -- as the primary return for Gasol.
ESPN.com reported earlier Friday that the Bulls and San Antonio Spurs had emerged as the two leading candidates to land Gasol, with San Antonio poised to land the Spaniard if the Bulls and Lakers could not finalize a sign-and-trade deal.
Sources told ESPN.com late Friday that the Bulls were prioritizing their pursuit of Gasol even ahead of their long-running efforts to sign Carmelo Anthony, fearing that Anthony is likely to stay with the New York Knicks.
The Lakers appear resigned to seeing Gasol exit after a 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 Oklahoma City Thunder had been pursuing Gasol as hard as anyone, but sources indicated Friday that the Spurs had joined the Bulls ahead of the Thunder in Gasol's pecking order.
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein was used in this report.