If Pau Gasol retired tomorrow, he’d be a first ballot Basketball Hall of Famer. He was the second-most valuable player on the Los Angeles Lakers when they won championship in 2009 and 2010, and he had a successful career overseas with Barcelona before he got drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.
But Gasol doesn’t want to retire.
At the age of 39, Gasol is hoping to make a full recovery from the stress fracture that he suffered in his left foot in March of 2019. Gasol was supposed to suit up for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, but they decided to cut ties with him after complications with his rehab arose.
If Gasol’s body allows him to play another season, he told Tales Azzoni of the Associated Press that he would strongly consider returning to the Lakers, or to Barcelona:
“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.”
It’s more than likely that the Lakers will enter the 2020-21 season over the cap, so, for the most part, they’ll be looking to sign bargain free agents like Gasol in the offseason. How seriously they look at Gasol will depend on who they prioritize in free agency.
The Lakers currently have two centers under contract: JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. McGee has a player option worth $4.2 million that he can exercise this fall, while Howard will be an unrestricted free agent. In addition to McGee and Howard, Los Angeles will also consider DeMarcus Cousins in free agency. The Lakers waived Cousins in February, but there is reportedly “mutual interest” in a reunion this offseason.
If one or more of the Lakers’ options at center fall through, it’s possible that they’d consider signing Gasol, but even then, there are probably other players they’d consider first — not because Gasol isn’t talented, but because of his health and age.
We’re obviously hoping that Gasol can make a comeback, but if he can’t, the Lakers should sign him to a one-day contract so he can retire in Los Angeles. Then, we can restart the talk about him getting his jersey retired.