In 2007, the Los Angeles Lakers had two picks in the second round: the No. 40 pick and the No. 48 pick. With the No. 40 pick, they drafted Sun Yue, who only made 10 appearances in his brief time with the team. The Lakers waived Yue in 2009.
With the No. 48 pick, they drafted Marc Gasol, who never suited up in the purple and gold because the Lakers traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in the blockbuster trade that brought his older brother Pau to Los Angeles. The rest is history, but not Marc’s history.
Sure, Marc got to know the city of Los Angeles well in the seven years that Pau played for the Lakers, and he got to know the people that Pau worked the closest with on the team, but that period of time didn’t belong to him; it belonged to his brother. Now, it’s Marc’s turn.
On Wednesday morning, Marc was officially introduced as a Laker, and he sounded eager to forge his own path in Los Angeles.
“Obviously, then there’s a lot of history with a lot of stuff,” Gasol said. “But for me, the most important thing was how I was going to fit on the court and how I was going to be able to help the team.”
Unlike his brother Pau, Marc will come to the Lakers as a seasoned and accomplished player. In Marc’s 12-year career, he’s made the All-Star game three times, been named to two All-NBA teams, won the Defensive Player of the Year Award once and in 2019, he won his first-ever NBA championship.
Marc may longer be in the prime of his career at the age of 35, but he’s still confident that he can help the Lakers compete for a championship, and the team’s brass let him know they feel the same way during their conversations with him in free agency.
“I don’t think there’s just one thing that kind of made me decide,” Gasol said. “But it boiled down to a chance of winning another championship and contributing to a team that is already really good ... Having a sense of being part of a great team, and seeing how the coach and the GM and everyone saw that I could contribute to that. That, to me, said a lot. A team that just want a championship pitching those ideas to you, that to me was was awesome.”
Gasol will bring his own championship experience and mentality to the Lakers’ locker room. and he’s hoping that will lead to more success and hardware for him and his new team.
“The guys are hungry for more,” Gasol said. “It’s not like it’s a one and done deal. Everybody in the locker room, starting with your leadership, wants more because that’s just the way they are built, and that was very refreshing to see. Everyone is on the same page.”
Gasol will come in and give the Lakers a different look on offense with his passing and shooting, but he knows the defensive end is where he has the opportunity to make the biggest difference for the team, even though his style of play is much different than what they were used to last season.
“I try to get to places before I have to jump in air because, you know, my that I’m going to spend in the air is not very long,” Gasol said. “But you know, I try to use my, my instincts and my knowledge of the game and the way that I study to get there before the you know, the offense goes there.
“I use a lot of communication as a center. I think communication builds trust and it solves problems. Whenever we see an issue, I know we’re going have great communication. We are going to be on the same page because at the end of day, you need defense to win games.”
Gasol hasn’t made an All-Defensive Team since the 2012-13 season, but he’s still one of the more impactful defensive centers in the league. Last season, Gasol ranked fifth among centers in defensive real plus-minus (3.42) and overall, he ranked seventh in the league in defensive real plus-minus. Suffice to say, he hits the mold they’re looking for.
There are still some lingering concerns about Gasol’s overall fitness for his age, but he’s hoping that he can leave his disappointing play in the Orlando bubble. If he can, there’s a good chance he’ll join his brother in Lakers history.