After going through the worst season in their 66-years of existence, the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of decisions to make this offseason and one of major moves will involve Pau Gasol.
This offseason Gasol is set to become a free agent for the first time in his 13-year NBA career and he is looking forward to taking advantage of what he describes as an “exciting” opportunity to decide his future.
“First it’s an exciting moment that I want to be able to enjoy and not be too stressed about,” Gasol said at his exit interview on Thursday. “Even though at some point I have to make a decision and I have to decide where I’m going to play and who I am going to play with it will be exciting. I look at this as an opportunity and probably for the first and only time I’ll be a free agent where I can choose. It’s exciting it’s nothing that I have experienced before in the NBA. It should be fun.”
But at the same time Gasol will consider any offer the Lakers present him if they indeed show interest in retaining his services next season.
“Yea, I’m going to listen closely to what the Lakers will have to offer and say about the team’s situation and position at the time,” Gasol said. “We know what it is today, but we don’t know what it is going to be July 1. See how the draft is going to play out, who they are going to end up drafting. Things like that that can have an impact or an effect on the structure of the team.”
With that said, the four-time All-Star at this current juncture finds it hard to see himself back in Los Angeles as the team is currently influx with injuries to their core players in Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant to along with the unknown with free agency and the NBA draft.
“It depends it would be kind of difficult,” Gasol said. “We don’t know if we will have Kobe (Bryant) here healthy. Hopefully Steve (Nash) being healthier as we would have a strong core. We haven’t been able to utilize that strong core in the last two years and that is part of the problem. But as long as you have Kobe, who I think is going to work extremely hard to be back at the best possible shape I don’t know it will be the best in his career but I think he will be in great shape and will be performing at a very high level.
“Then you add certain pieces around the core, things could happen and go either way. They really haven’t gone our way the last two years but at some point that changes. Let’s see I don’t know I have to evaluate each and every option that I will have on the table. I will try to put my feelings aside a little and make a decision on where I fit the best and have the best opportunity to hopefully go out there and win a championship.”
Gasol also stated that Bryant has already begun to make a pitch to him to remain with the Lakers, as the two together have led the team to three consecutive NBA Finals as they won two of them and made six straight playoff appearance prior to this season.
What will also likely play a factor in his decision on where he plays next season will be the head coach of the team. With the Lakers over the past two seasons, he and head coach Mike D’Antoni have had a fair amount of difference in philosophy as pertains to the offensive system.
“I think the coaching position is always an important position,” Gasol said. “I think Mike and I had our misunderstandings over the last two years. The philosophy of having two big men interior players was very hard for Mike as it goes against his philosophy and beliefs. So I know it’s been a struggle for our team as we were never healthy enough to where things could work. I don’t know how much it would affect my decision, but I do believe the coaching spot on the team has an important role on the performance of the team.
Gasol also added:
“I think we found a common ground. I was more used to playing a more under control slower tempo type of game, but I was open to a higher pace. I think this year I did a little better.”
If the 33-year does however explore the market for potential destinations, one suitable scenario appears to be the Memphis Grizzles as he familiarity with the team as he spent his first six plus seasons with them prior to being traded to Los Angeles and there is also the chance to play with younger brother Marc Gasol,
“It would be weird and different to play all year around with him,” Gasol said of playing alongside his brother. “‘Would it be fun? I think it would be a lot of fun. He is one of the best big men in the game. I think you can make the argument he is one of the best centers in the game today. I like him better than any other guy out there at the center position. So it would be a lot of fun. ”But would that happen? I don’t know.”‘
With Gasol stating that he see himself playing about five more years at a high level before he retires, it puts onus the 13-year veteran to choose a team that best fits his desire to win another championship. As the Lakers do not seem to have a set plan ahead of them at this current time, it all but seems that Gasol’s future may be leaning toward playing for a new team.
But with that said, things can change over these next couple of months before the start of the free agency period. There is still plenty now and then to speculate what Gasol may or may not do.
Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports
Bob Garcia IV
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