What was supposed to be a magical season for the Los Angeles Lakers quickly became a nightmare. Despite boasting the most talented roster (on paper), the purple and gold consistently found ways to disappoint and underwhelm.
With the nightmare now over, it’s time for Mitch Kupchak and Co. to make some big decisions. One of them is figuring out whether or not power forward Pau Gasol is a part of their plan for the 2013-2014 campaign.
Gasol, who was a huge factor in the Lakers’ last two championships, suffered from one of the worst seasons of his career in 2012-2013. Playing in only 49 games due to injury, the four-time NBA All-Star finished the season with his worst shooting percentage (46.6) of his 12-year career. He averaged only 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, and often appeared out of sorts. Then again, the Lakers’ lineup as a whole was typically out of sorts.
It’s also worth noting that Gasol didn’t really fit into new head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. If D’Antoni returns as the Lakers’ head honcho in 2013-2014, it could be all the more reason for L.A. to hand him his pink slip.
Throughout the early stages of the offseason, there’s been speculation that the Lakers could take several routes to getting Gasol out of L.A. From a trade to using the amnesty clause, Kupchak must decide how best to handle the situation without alienating players and fans alike. At the same time, retaining Gasol through the end of his current contract could be a real option – free agency and the 2013 NBA Draft will provide some clarity, though.
In the end, Gasol’s fate in L.A. will be decided based on whether or not unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard opts to stay with the Lakers. If D12 returns to Los Angeles, the Lakers could be forced to part ways with Gasol. If Howard jumps ship, though, the Spaniard will be too valuable to the L.A. frontcourt for Kupchak to send him packing.
For now, we just have to wait and see how the Howard saga plays out.