With Dwight Howard unable to hack under the bright lights of Los Angeles, the attention returns to the center that was able to win two straight NBA titles for the Los Angeles Lakers. Pau Gasol will resume his role as the starting center for the Lakers this season and is excited about the opportunity to do so.
Although the oft-injured Andrew Bynum helped shoulder the load at center during the two championship runs in the Gasol era, the international star was the main reason for the team’s success inside the paint when the Lakers were able to take down the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics in consecutive seasons.
Despite the fact this team no longer has the high expectation, Gasol has a chance to prove his worth as one of the best big men in the game. The four-time All-Star will be facing uncertainty in terms of his long-term future in Los Angeles with his contract with the team expiring. Gasol wants to re-sign with the team and ultimately retire with the Lakers, but will need to have a bounce back year following an injury plagued season in order to do so.
At this point in time, all indications point to Gasol having the opportunity to earn a new contract as the second half of a one-two punch with Steve Nash. Dwight’s inability to run the pick-and-roll last season really hurt this team’s chemistry and the play of Gasol. Now that Dwight will no longer be clogging up the paint, Nash and Gasol may become a dynamic duo as the team awaits the return of Kobe Bryant.
The pressure will be on Gasol heading into the upcoming season to turn some heads. There’s no doubt he’ll be prepared for the challenge while being more than capable of living up to expectations as the new starting center for this team moving forward.
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