Last offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers practically moved heaven and earth to sign Marc Gasol, and understandably so. On paper, Gasol was exactly the type of center the Lakers needed alongside Anthony Davis in the front court.
However, after a season in which Gasol was relegated to a reserve role because of the Lakers’ decision to bring Andre Drummond in midway through the season, his future with the team is up in the air.
While Gasol is technically one of just five Lakers with guaranteed contracts through next season, he doesn’t know where he fits into the team’s offseason plans yet.
“Obviously they have a lot of decisions to make and I’m not at the top of the list of those decisions,” Gasol said. “We’ll see later on this summer how the team moves and what they want to do, what the plan is. Right now, I think everything is so fresh. No one planned to be having those meetings right now. I don’t think they fully know what the plan is yet, so I think we all need that time to reflect.
“I’m very thankful for the year that I lived. I know obviously it didn’t end the way we all wanted, but it’s been better than it looked from the outside for me personally. I just enjoyed some of the things that happened, some of the other things I didn’t, but I tried to be positive and like I said, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I had here.”
There are a handful of directions the Lakers can go with Gasol this summer. They can keep him and try to rebuild their relationship with him next season, or they can end their partnership with him by waiving him or trading him. Additionally, they could try to negotiate a contract buyout with him, something neither Gasol or the Lakers seriously explored during the season.
A buyout made some sense for Gasol from a basketball standpoint, but that wasn’t the only thing he considered when he decided to tough it out with the Lakers last season.
“I mean there’s different aspects in life,” Gasol said. “Like, there’s your professional aspect and a chance of playing with LeBron and AD and understanding what the picture was like. I didn’t need anybody to explain to me what being a third center is and knowing that we always have the trump card of AD playing the five, or even Bron playing the five. So once you have two guys ahead of you, and you’re the third center, you’re really like the fifth center. But I didn’t need anybody to explain that to me. I understood that ...
“And then there’s the family aspect. My kids go to school here. My wife was happy here. Moving the family again was not ideal for me at that time. Maybe if I didn’t have a family and I was 10 years younger I would have chose differently. But the reality was I wanted to stay here, I wanted to contribute, I wanted to help the guys. I was actually having a lot of fun working with the young guys, with Kostas, Devontae with Zo, I was enjoying doing that as well. In the downtime that I wasn’t playing much, working with them was something that I enjoyed ...
“When cards are dealt to you that you don’t like, you don’t get to ask for a re-deal. You just play them as good as you can, try to be as positive as you can and you just roll with the punches. And eventually, obviously, things started changing. I got to play a little more. It didn’t end the way I wish. To be honest with you, I didn’t envision this season ending with a Game 6 (loss) at home. I didn’t see that coming.”
As disappointing as Gasol’s experience with the Lakers was from both a team and individual standpoint at times, he said that he his overall experience in Los Angeles was positive, in large part because of his teammates.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity and the chance to play with not only Bron and AD, but also with guys like Keef, like Wes, like Dennis, all my teammates, Trezz,” Gasol said. “All my teammates that I played with I really enjoyed. Kenny/KCP, I enjoyed playing with him as well, all the coaching staff and everyone that you guys probably didn’t get to see in front of the camera. All the medical team, the PR people, media, I enjoyed all of them.
“When you get to a certain age, you enjoy every moment that you get, especially coming from a year that weakened me before, which wasn’t fun at all. Being in the bubble, there was a lot of basketball, but it was not fun. At least not personally fun for me. So I came into this year with the mindset of enjoying every second of it, soaking everything in, and understanding what an honor it is to wear this jersey.
“Obviously you guys know my family history with the team and how much it meant to Pau. So for me to be here and play for this team was an honor, and it is an honor. So I didn’t take it for granted for one second.”