Last summer, no one knew if two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol would return to the Los Angeles Lakers. The consensus was that Gasol would head elsewhere in free agency in an attempt to play for a contender, but he took his time with the decision leaving the Lakers as an option.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Gasol chose to sign a three-year deal with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers offered more money, but winning was all that was on his mind with the veteran forward/center finally being able to control his own fate.
On Christmas Day, Gasol will face his former team for the first time since signing with Chicago. Gasol admits it’ll be a strange experience for him, via Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago:
“Emotional, weird, hard to focus,” Gasol said of what he expects for his range of emotions Thursday night. “But at the same time, I kind of look forward to it in a way. To see some of the people that I’ve been through a lot with.”
At 34, Gasol is putting up some monster numbers for the Bulls. The Spaniard is having his best season in years averaging 18.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
So far, the Bulls have gotten their money’s worth out of Gasol as they continue to hold off LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers for the division lead in the Central. Derrick Rose appears to be back to form with Gasol and Jimmy Butler helping shoulder the scoring load while Joakim Noah leads the defense in the paint.
As for the Lakers, Gasol’s presence is missed in more ways than one. Los Angeles is on pace for another disappointing end to the season with an exhausted Kobe Bryant leading the way.
The Lakers are coming off an impressive victory over the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center without Kobe, but will have another tough test ahead against Gasol’s Bulls in Chicago at the United Center.[divide]
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