Although the Los Angeles Lakers decided against trading Pau Gasol before the trade deadline and would like to retain him (and likely at the urging of guard Kobe Bryant), Gasol will have plenty of suitors once he hits free agency this summer. The Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers are three of the teams expected to chase Gasol.
Gasol has a great affinity for the Lakers but says he will put those feelings aside when he makes his decision.
Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News takes a look at Gasol and his potential to return.
Pluses: Gasol thrived as the Lakers’ offensive focal point despite his reservations about D’Antoni’s fast-paced system.
Minuses: Concerns persist about Gasol’s long-term health and poor defense.
Outlook: The Lakers and Gasol are both lukewarm about reuniting. The Lakers will not pay Gasol near the $19.3 million he made this season. Despite Gasol’s versatility, the Lakers also believe his best years are behind him. Gasol will not return if he fields offers from championship-caliber teams and/or D’Antoni is retained. Still, Bryant’s support and Gasol’s affection for this franchise could ensure he has not expended his nine lives with the Lakers.
It’s no surprise that Gasol doesn’t want to play for D’Antoni – he did not like the way he was used in his system.
Plus, a team like the Bulls are a lot closer to a title than the Lakers.
Gasol averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season.