The writing has been on the wall for a while, but the Lakers have made it official. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the team will salary dump Marc Gasol to the Grizzlies, ending his time with the purple and gold (and, likely, his NBA career):
The Lakers signed two former All-Star centers this offseason -- Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan -- for franchise's frontcourt. Gasol has a one-year, $2.7M that multiplies with Lakers luxury tax. Gasol, 36, is three-time All-Star, an NBA Defensive Player of Year and NBA champion.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 10, 2021
The Lakers just confirmed the Marc Gasol trade pic.twitter.com/hq4bERQsQM— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 10, 2021
The Lakers sent their own 2024 second (no protection) and $250K cash to Memphis. https://t.co/OfLVy2CH2f— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) September 11, 2021
This is just another instance of the Grizzlies helping the Lakers, who had already signed DeAndre Jordan after weeks of leaks that they were interested in basically anyone who was seven feet tall and not Marc Gasol, so this move is hardly a surprising one. Gasol averaged 5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 52 appearances, while shooting 45.4% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. He only played 87 minutes in the playoffs however, and never seemed to get totally comfortable in Los Angeles.
And despite early success as part of the team’s original starting lineup to open the 2020-21 season, the Lakers never felt totally committed to Gasol, or vice versa. From the team promising Andre Drummond that he could have Gasol’s starting spot to secure his signature at midseason to Gasol openly considering asking for a buyout of his own before later recommitting to the team, there was just nearly constant turbulence during his now one-year stay with the organization, a strangeness our own Nicole Ganglani summarized well earlier this morning. The two sides simply never quite seemed to be on the same page or value one another very much, and so it’s not exactly a shock that they’re opting to move on from one another after only a year together.
And while the 36-year-old wasn’t as bad last season as some box score watchers would have you believe, Gasol also wasn’t really good enough for his absence to be worth getting too worked about one way or another. Ultimately, both him and Jordan are unlikely to play much in the postseason for this team (barring a disaster, in which case it wouldn’t really matter anyway), and so it makes some degree of sense for the team to prefer insurance in the Dwight Howard vein like Jordan instead of a totally different skillset like Gasol, doubling down on physicality and dunks rather than committing a roster spot to mostly theoretical spacing.
With Gasol no longer on the roster, the Lakers’ have 13 guaranteed contracts on the team, and reportedly planned to enter the season leaving their 15th roster spot open, which means they will likely sign at least one more player heading into training camp.