Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has experienced almost all that he can in Los Angeles, and General Manager Mitch Kupchak looks set to try and get Gasol back for a little more this NBA offseason. His career as a Laker consists of championships, franchise-worst records, injuries and an abundance trade rumors that would be more than many could handle, but his love for the franchise and friendship with Kobe Bryant could see him return.
Keeping Gasol at the price front office would like will prove difficult with rumors circulating that the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors are all after the experienced Spaniard. The financial side of any deal isn’t as important as the potential for a championship for Gasol, that decreases the likelihood he returns to the Lakers in their current state.
If the Lakers can convince Gasol they can get back to contending for a championship after last seasons franchise-worst 27-55 record, he will be worth pursuing.
Gasol was an integral part to the Lakers’ championship runs in 2009 and 2010 but like the rest of the team, he has struggled to remain healthy enough to be a legitimate contender. With a playoff-less season just gone, Gasol will have an extra two months to nurse any injuries before the FIBA Basketball World Cup on August 30th.
As one of the most skilled big men in the NBA, Gasol will be able to help any team looking to be a contender in June. While it’s unlikely to happen with the Lakers as it stands, a front court of new rookie Julius Randle, Gasol and the hopeful re-signing of Jordan Hill would be something fans could get excited about.
Bryant is a huge advocate of Gasol and given the choice, would re-sign him in a heart beat. Gasol can provide excellent low post presence on offensive as a scorer and passer, and is someone defenders can’t sag off on during the pick-and-roll. Camping in the high post with Randle’s strength down low can result in a pinpoint pass for an easy bucket for the rookie, or just as easily, Gasol can face up and hit a jumper. Offence has never been a problem for the Lakers, and Gasol in the rotation would continue that trend.
Gasol loves Los Angeles, and provided it isn’t the fortnight before the trade deadline; the vast majority of LA loves him back. He will have plenty of teams after him and some tough decisions to make, but if the Lakers can sign some talent to make that decision easier, there’s a good chance we see Gasol back in the purple and gold during the 2014-15 season.