Pau Gasol, whose two NBA championships came with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, last played for Los Angeles in the 2013-14 season. The Lakers missed the playoffs that year for just the third time in four decades, and they haven’t returned to the postseason since.
Now Gasol, who left the franchise that summer as a free agent and has spent the past five years with the Bulls, Spurs, Raptors and Bucks, is eyeing a chance to end his playing career where he spent his prime.
Gasol, 39, told Spanish media (via The Associated Press) that a return to the Lakers for the 2020-21 NBA season is an “attractive” option. The 7-foot Barcelona native also said he wouldn’t mind ending his career where it started, with his hometown EuroLeague team.
“My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe,” said Gasol, who was signed by the Trail Blazers in free agency last July but never played for Portland due to a stress fracture in his left foot. He was waived by the team in November.
“A final season with the Lakers is attractive,” he added. “Finishing at Barça is attractive. But you have to see the real possibilities and see what situation would be best for the circumstances of the moment.”
The Lakers’ NBA playoff drought will end this year when the season resumes in late summer at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Los Angeles, with a 49-14 record and sitting atop the Western Conference standings, has already clinched a playoff spot.
Given the context of the Lakers’ relative struggles in the post-Shaquille O’Neal era from 2004 through 2007, Gasol’s arrival in LA via trade in February 2008 paved the way for the franchise’s latest pair of NBA titles. Alongside the late Kobe Bryant, Gasol helped the Lakers make three straight NBA Finals appearances, winning two.
Gasol, widely considered the greatest Spanish basketball player of all time, also mentioned that he needs to be an active professional player next season to give himself a chance of playing in the Olympics one more time.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve had more time to recover,” he said. “When I can start running and jumping I will have a lot more information to know for sure if the foot and the bone are consolidated for me to be playing professional basketball again.”
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