In the midst of arguably his most difficult season in his 13-year NBA career, Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol will base his decision in free agency to sign with the team that gives him the best chance to win.
“Honestly, I’m not ruling out renewing my contract, I’m just open to every option,” Gasol wrote Friday on his personal website. “My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn’t be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help to compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage of my career.”
The 33-year-old is in the final year of his three-year extension worth $64.7 million with the Lakers in December 2009. It has been nothing short of a frustrating season for Gasol as he has not only had to endure his team’s struggles as they are currently in last place in the Western Conference with a 20-39 record, but also an ongoing internal conflict with head coach Mike D’Antoni.
But with that said, the 13-year veteran has stated several times this season that his preference is to remain with the Lakers, who he has spent the last six seasons with that include two NBA championships. Although Gasol desires to stay with Los Angeles, his aspirations to win another NBA title will be a huge factor in where he chooses to play next season and beyond.
“I’m a free agent with no restrictions,” Gasol wrote. “That means I can go wherever I want. The Lakers don’t have any bargaining rights. My franchise has the chance of offering me more money and a longer contract, but that’s not all that’s going to matter as far as my decision.”
As far as potential landing spots this upcoming offseason, the Memphis Grizzles may be an option for Gasol. The four-time All-Star has stated in a few instances this year that he is interested in the possibility of returning to his former team that he spent his first seven seasons of his career playing with as it gives him the chance to play with his brother Marc Gasol.
“It’s appealing,” Gasol said. “One of the best centers in the NBA, one of the best interior players, is my brother. There’s a lot of attractive factors there. But who knows if that’s even a possibility or if that will ever happen.”
So as the Lakers and Gasol play through the final 23 games of the season, it will be interesting to see what Los Angeles will do from here on out. There is no doubting that the 33-year-old’s heart lies with staying with the Lakers, it is now just a matter of the team showing him that they feel the same way come free agency.
Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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