Even though the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a high-scoring loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Pau Gasol proved to the franchise that he must be a priority to be re-signed this offseason. Gasol finished with a season high 29 points to go along with his 12 rebounds in the 132-125 loss. Not to mention, that Gasol put these numbers up against an elite defender in Anthony Davis.
Furthermore, Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. This means that he is free to sign with any team that he desires, which could spell trouble for Los Angeles. It is no secret that he has not been treated the best in the past couple of season. Even after leading the Lakers to back-to-back championships, the organization has shopped him around year after year, including a trade that sent him to the Houston Rockets in a transaction that was later vetoed by David Stern.
There are all reasons why Gasol will likely be weary in trusting the franchise that has not reciprocated the same loyalty that he has shown.
However, the Lakers would be foolish not to make a run at bringing back the former All-Star, as he has demonstrated his talents night in and night out this season. Of course, the team is looking to clear up some cap space in attempts to sign younger elite free agents, but Gasol will not likely demand such a steep salary as his current contract.
Another benefit for Los Angeles is that they can exceed the salary cap when giving Gasol an extension, because the team has Bird Rights on him. This is due to the fact that Gasol has been on the team for longer than three years, so the NBA developed Bird Rights in order for teams to be able to retain their players.
In order to free up some additional cap, Los Angeles can even use the stretch provision on Steve Nash. Doing so would clear up about $6 million more, which would cover the majority of any contract Gasol would be offered. It is certainly going to take excessive convincing and likely a coaching change, but it will unquestionably be worth the effort.
Kobe Bryant has even gone out dark and said in the past the he wants Pau in Los Angeles. His experience can only help younger players coming into the franchise in the upcoming years.