Of the 15 players on the Los Angeles Lakers full-time roster in 2020-21, upwards of 10 could be free agents during the upcoming offseason. Marc Gasol is one of just five players under a guaranteed contract in 2021-22, but even he has some uncertainty surrounding his future with the team.
If Gasol wants to play another year, the Lakers would surely welcome him with open arms with his role likely being dictated by other moves the team makes. However, there is a chance he could retire as he is entering his age-37 season after what could be one of the most physically difficult seasons of his career.
Gasol spoke about a lack of behind-the-scenes conversations between him, Frank Vogel and Rob Pelinka about his and the team’s future during his exit meeting. “Obviously, they have a lot of decisions to make. I don’t think I’m at the top of the list on those decisions. We’ll see later on this summer how the team looks and what they want to do, what the plan is, but right now I think everything is so fresh. No one planned to be having those meetings right now. I don’t think they know fully what the plan is yet, so I think we all need that time to reflect.
“I’m very thankful for the year that I lived. Obviously, it doesn’t end the way we all want it, but it’s been better than it looked from the outside probably for me personally. Enjoyed some of the things that happened and some of things I didn’t. Try to be positive and like I said, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I had here.”
The Lakers center also discussed the possibility of running it back and if they would have a shot at a championship. “Without a doubt. If you look at the roster and even the roster yesterday even with or without AD. You look at the roster and you understand the possibilities and capabilities of that team. It’s how much are you willing to sacrifice for the team.
“How much of your own game are you willing to put in? How much are you going to invest mentally on sacrificing defensively to protecting your teammates and communicating? It might not be flashy and it’s not as easy as it seems because you normally don’t get much reward when you sacrifice and you talk and you do all the stuff. It’s what it takes. You have to have guys like AD and LeBron [James] on the team.
“The rest of the pieces need to help and help build and give that consistency to the group and not everyone is going to be able to shine and not everyone is going to develop their game. You just need to fit in and see what you can bring to the table because they’re going to bring a lot, but you need to help them as well and move it to the floor and that takes a different kind of mindset on a daily basis. For sure, quality. The team has plenty of quality looking at the roster next year. There’s no doubt the talent is there it’s just sacrificing, especially when you come after a year of winning the championship, you already established kind of a culture. Everybody needs to buy into that culture and kind of understand what they need to do to make it even better.”
The Lakers have plenty of uncertainty in the form of their potentially 10 free agents. However, they even have some unknown when it comes to one of their five guaranteed players. They also could still have trade talks surrounding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma.
When all is said and done, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the only players that can be guaranteed a Lakers roster spot next season. After that, a series of decisions are going to be made by Pelinka and the front office over how they would like to build this roster.
Vogel part of Pelinka’s future plans
Even the Lakers head coach is entering the final season of his contract, opening the door for extension talks. Vogel, after winning a championship, is virtually guaranteed an extension, but Pelinka put any talks of any other outcome to bed with his recent comments. “Listen, Frank’s done an outstanding job as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers,” Pelinka said. “To come into an organization and his first year to help us achieve the ultimate goal is really incredible and something that we are so grateful and appreciative of.
“And this year I think did everything to battle through some of the things that our team face that we couldn’t control and did the best he could in times of adversity to keep everybody together. Frank is a guy that we, Kurt and I and the front office, really enjoy working with that does a great job with our players and we see him as a strong part of our future, for sure.”
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