When the Los Angeles Lakers brought in Marc Gasol during the 2020 offseason, fans were ecstatic to have a defensively savvy big man who could spread the floor on offense. However, Gasol struggled during the first half of the season.
This was especially true on defense, where it felt as though his age was catching up to him. Then, on top of all of that, he tested positive for COVID-19 and was out of the lineup for multiple weeks.
During that time, the Lakers went shopping on the buyout market, eventually landing coveted center Andre Drummond, who was instantly put in the starting lineup, pushing Gasol to the bench where he would split backup minutes with Montrezl Harrell.
From there, Gasol’s role decreased significantly, and he publicly showed frustration on one occasion. Then, his attitude changed, and he became as committed to the team as he had all year and wound up playing a major role in the Laker’s first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.
Gasol spoke about the decision to recommit to the Lakers and do not request a buyout. “There are different aspects in life. There’s the professional aspect and a chance of playing with Bron and AD. Understanding what the future was like. I didn’t need anyone to explain to me what being a third center is and knowing that you always have the trump card in AD playing the five or LeBron [James] playing the five, so once you have two guys ahead of you and you’re the third center you’re really like the fifth center, but I didn’t need anybody to explain that to me.
“I understood that and anything that was different from that was circumstantial and it was not the reality and then there’s the family aspect. My kids go to school here. My wife was happy here. Moving the family here was not ideal for me at that time. Maybe if I didn’t have a family and I was 10 years younger, maybe I would’ve chosen differently. The reality is I wanted to stay here, I wanted to contribute. I want to help the guys. I was actually having a lot of fun working with the young guys. Kostas [Antetokounmpo], Devontae [Cacok], Zo. I was enjoying doing that as well on the downtime when I wasn’t playing much. Working with them is something that I enjoyed.
“When cards are dealt to you don’t like you don’t get to ask for a redeal. You just play as good as you can, you try to be as positive as you can and just roll with the punches. Eventually, obviously, things start changing and I started to play a little bit.”
Gasol is not only a remarkably intelligent player and person, but he is also a great teammate. His putting aside his personal wants to help the team win and being a leader was massively appreciated by the Lakers organization and the fans.
Ultimately, Gasol wound up playing exactly the type of role he was seeking when talks of a buyout first surfaced. Sadly, it came in a losing effort, as L.A. was eliminated in six games by the Suns. But Gasol’s efforts in the series were exactly what the team needed.
Now, the Lakers center is one of just five players with a guaranteed contract for the 2021-22 season, but it’s unclear what his future holds. He may want to come back and play, at which point the Lakers would welcome him with open arms. He may also want to retire, which fans and the organization would absolutely respect.
Davis believes he can play alongside any big man
With the Lakers center rotation potentially in flux once again, replacing players would come down to who Davis feels most comfortable playing with. In order to relieve some pressure on the front office, Davis ensured that he will be happy playing alongside any big man.
“We had two bigs last year in JaVale and Dwight. This year we had a stretch big and a big that plays in the paint so I think I can play either-or. We had Marc and I was playing the paint and then with Drumm I was playing on the perimeter.
“So I think my ideal big is whatever works, whatever fits our team. That’s ideal for me and we’ll draw schemes and things like that to make it work.”
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