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Basketball: Pau Gasol to join Chicago Bulls

Spanish star Pau Gasol, a free agent center who won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, announced on Saturday that he will join the Chicago Bulls next season.

CHICAGO: Spanish star Pau Gasol, a free agent center who won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, announced on Saturday that he will join the Chicago Bulls next season.

Gasol said he thought long and hard before making the decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and play for the Chicago Bulls.

The 34-year-old forward from Barcelona said on Saturday on Twitter he is exercising his right as a free agent and heading east to join the playoff-contending Bulls.

"It hasn't been easy," Gasol tweeted. "After meditating it a lot I've chosen to play with the Chicago Bulls. Looking forward to this new chapter of my career."

Gasol spent the past seven seasons with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two NBA titles. He will join another former MVP in Chicago, point guard Derrick Rose.

With Bryant out most of the season, Gasol averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 60 games in 2013-14. He also missed some games with a groin strain and vertigo.

He has averaged 18.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 13 NBA seasons with Memphis and the Lakers.

His arrival helps boost the chances of the Bulls to become a title contender despite the nagging injury problems that have hampered playmaker Derrick Rose the past several seasons.

Gasol also was courted by the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

The Bulls might have to make other moves before signing Gasol due to NBA salary cap restrictions.

No word was indicated on how long or rich a deal Gasol might have.

His signing does appear to drive the final nail in any notion that New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony might sign with the Bulls rather than remain in New York with a team that failed to make the playoffs last season.

Gasol helped Spain capture the silver medal at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, both times falling to the US collection of NBA stars in the final.

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