Pau Gasol hasn’t technically been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers since 2014, but a player that was as key of a part of two titles with the team as Gasol was never really stops being a Laker, either.
Things may not have ended the best between Gasol and the purple and gold as he saw his name constantly floated in trade rumors while not always seeing eye-to-eye with then head coach Mike D’Antoni during his final several seasons with the team, but when Ryan Ward of Clutch Points asked Gasol if he had ever “seriously considered” coming back to Los Angeles, he made it sound like he at least somewhat likes the idea of finishing his career back where he had the most successful years of it:
“Seriously considered? It’s not that I’ve had many opportunities,” Gasol told ClutchPoints. “It’s something that has been on my mind. Kind of like the potential of maybe finishing or playing my last year with the Lakers would be great. It’s appealing if you will, but the opportunity never really kind of presented itself in a serious official manner.
“I have a great relationship and love for Jeanie and the Lakers organization and the city of Los Angeles, which is always going to remain extremely meaningful to me no matter what, but we’ll see. But not really.”
That’s not a no, and with Gasol a free agent right now — he started the year with the Portland Trail Blazers but was waived in November due to his slow rehab from a surgical procedure on his left foot — it is theoretically possible that the Lakers could bring him back whenever free agency takes place, if that’s something both sides have an interest in.
For nostalgia purposes, that kind of move would be a slam dunk. Gasol is one of the most talented and important players to wear the purple and gold, not just because of the sizable role he played in their 2009 and 2010 championships, but also for how his mere presence put the final nail in the coffin of Kobe Bryant’s ultimately rescinded trade request from the summer of 2007. Gasol was the perfect second banana on a team with Bryant and one of the smartest and savviest passing big men the game has ever seen, not to mention one of the nicest people to ever filter through the Lakers organization. No one inside or outside the organization is going to complain if he is brought back.
That said, foot injuries in big men who have played 18 years in the NBA already are no joke. This isn’t to say Gasol is for sure done, as he’s at least left the door open to one more season in repeated interviews over the course of this year, but his last two injury-plagued seasons have made it appear as though he just may not be able to stay on the court at this point.
With the Lakers already having JaVale McGee under contract for next season, and as a result likely needing another center that can be counted on to play fairly significant minutes in the way Dwight Howard is right now, Gasol just may not be at the point in his career where he can be relied upon to do that for a likely title contender. He might make sense as a third big man for insurance reasons, but with Anthony Davis (who seems likely to return) playing significant minutes at center as well, signing a third center might not be the best allocation of the Lakers’ limited roster spots.
All that noted, I’m not going to spend too much time arguing for Pau Gasol, one of my favorite players ever, to not come back. It would be so much fun just to see him in purple and gold again, and to draw in someone who was a part of those Kobe teams that we’ve all been reminiscing about even more lately. To see him get a little farewell tour as a veteran presence like Metta Sandiford-Artest would be really cool, and if the Lakers can find a way to make this happen that makes sense for both sides, I think just about everyone who frequents this site would embrace that. Just don’t necessarily count on it yet.