Former Lakers center Pau Gasol admitted in an ESPN interview on Wednesday that he’d love to return to the team where he won two championships, and play with his brother, Marc Gasol, for the first time in the NBA.
Marc has previously echoed that sentiment, but when asked about Pau’s comments after the team’s training camp practice on Thursday, he said there were more important things than the two of them teaming up in Los Angeles.
“First and foremost, Pau has to be healthy and has to continue to stay healthy throughout the process of rehabbing. Building that endurance and continued impact on his foot, on his bone is going to be crucial. The only way to know about it is through playing, so I think he has to find a way to play a little bit, to see how his body reacts to that,” Marc said, referencing the foot issues that ended Gasol’s last two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively.
“I think that should be the main focus right now instead of where he’s going to play. More important is his health and how he feels, and how his body reacts to the workload.”
That might seem like a fairly tepid response to the idea of becoming one of the few sets of brothers to ever play together in the NBA, but Marc seems to have heavier subjects on his mind.
“In the past year and a half, yes I’ve seen Pau, and not on the basketball court, obviously,” Marc said. “As a brother, I haven’t had the chance to see my niece (Pau’s newborn daughter) yet, so hopefully I get to see my niece soon and get to meet her. With the situation we’re in now, everything is pretty limited, so it is what it is.
“I haven’t seen Pau in a while, but it’s going to be okay,” Marc continued. “He’s been rehabbing the whole time. I know he’s very dedicated to it, and it means a lot to him to get this right, but it’s not the end of the world if that’s not the case.”
Marc is probably right about that last part. Pau has always seemed to have enough other interests and humanitarian missions that he could walk away from basketball and just fine, but if he can get healthy for one last run, it would be incredibly cool to see him get some form of last hurrah with the Lakers. He seems to want it, and even if Marc seems determined to not raise expectations for his older brother, LeBron James appears to like the idea too, which certainly can’t hurt. Like they would for their rumored interest in Trevor Ariza, the Lakers would have to cut someone or wait until the buyout deadline, but a return for Pau at least appears on the table.
Still, Marc is correct that there are more important things in the world right now than whether or not Pau can play another professional season, and it sounds like he’s just trying to focus on controlling what he can control. Whether Pau is with him or not, and however the Lakers decide to use him, Marc wants to be ready.
“As far as my role, I think it’s going to be fluid, it’s going to depend on how things evolve as a team and what’s needed,” Marc said. “I’m very open to whatever coach and the team needs from me. I’m always going to try to do the task in front of me as best as possible, and I’m going to put everything I have into it. That’s the guarantee I can give you.”