Pau Gasol has been playing professional basketball since 1998 when he was just 18 years old, at the time doing so for Barcelona. He came to the NBA in 2001 and played six and a half years for the Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline of the 2007-08 season.
Gasol and Kobe Bryant became an incredible duo on the court and formed a brotherhood off of it. The pairing won two championships and went to three NBA Finals together.
Gasol eventually left the Lakers after the 2013-14 season, and has spent the last six years as a journeyman. Now a free agent with a lingering foot injury at age 39, another season is certainly not guaranteed.
However, should he get the chance, returning to the Lakers or Barcelona would be his top choices, according to Tales Azzoni of the Associated Press:
“My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe,” he said. “A final season with the Lakers is attractive, finishing at Barça is attractive, but you have to see the real possibilities and see what situation would be best for the circumstances of the moment.”
He said a decision on his future will likely have to be made in September or October.
The Lakers should absolutely be championship contenders next season, but having Gasol on the roster wouldn’t be a hindrance to that at all. Although he will be 40 at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Gasol can still bring value to an NBA roster.
Obviously, his leadership ability and connection to the franchise would be meaningful both in the locker room and to the fans. And considering he would probably be the 13th to 15th man on the roster, playing time would be minimal.
Galso would likely play similar or even fewer minutes than what Jared Dudley or Quinn Cook have received this season.
If the Lakers decide not to bring back Gasol, fans will be disappointed, but they presumably will understand given the situation. His most recent playing time, a three-game stint with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019, showed that most of his use came as a rebounder and a spot up shooter.
The Lakers aren’t in desperate need of either of those, and may want to go younger if they want those things. However, it would certainly be incredible to see Gasol don the purple and gold once again.
Knowing that he would be excited to spend his last year with L.A. may be enough to seal the deal and get him a contract.