The Los Angeles Lakers are about to come face-to-face with arguably their most crucial offseason in the past decade. Only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are under-contract for the Lakers heading into the 2014-15 NBA season, meaning they have substantial decisions and room to make those decisions when it comes to free agency this summer.
There’s no question though that their biggest and possibly toughest decision in free agency will be regarding veteran big man Pau Gasol. Since being traded to the Lakers in the 2007-08 season, Gasol has made three All-Star teams and has won two NBA Championships with the team. Given the current state of the franchise, how they just finished this past season with one of the worst records in the league, and the fact that he’ll turn 34 years old this summer, the situation is a bit more complex than what he’s done for this team in the past.
According to multiple reports since the end of the Lakers season, particularly one last week from the LA Times, Gasol isn’t closed to returning to the Lakers. However, the writing definitely seems to be on the wall that the big man’s time in the City of Angels is about to come to a close.
Perhaps he was just answering the questions given to him, but Gasol has spent a great deal of time discussing options outside of the Lakers in free agency. He’s talked about playing for a contender and playing “with the best.” Though some may bring up an aging Kobe Bryant coming back from two serious lower-body injuries, the Lakers don’t exactly offer what Gasol says he’s looking for right now.
The interesting part about this is that it might not be the worst thing for the Lakers if they were to move on from having Gasol as a part of their roster. This is a team that desperately needs an influx of talent and youth. While having a veteran like Gasol on a team on the cusp of contending or adding him to a contender would be a huge help, he doesn’t exactly offer that to this Lakers team.
Nothing is certain at this point and we all know that Kobe’s wishes could play a big part in what happens regarding Gasol, but it seems quite likely that the veteran is heading elsewhere. If you’re a Lakers fan who is attached to Gasol and the memories he provided, it might be time to prepare your goodbyes.