Pau Gasol’s season with the Lakers appears to be over. For the past few years he has been a terrible fit with the Lakers, things going wrong after Phil Jackson left. Mike Brown didn’t know what to do with Gasol for some reason, Mike D’Antoni’s system is classic square peg in the round hole for him. Combine that with some age, declining defense and injuries, and the result hasn’t been pretty. Both sides are ready to part ways when he becomes a free agent this summer.
When he does Gasol will have options.
He still has a lot of supporters around the league and while he’s not going to make anywhere near $19 million he is going to get paid. Chris Mannix laid it out well at Sports Illustrated.
A poll of NBA executives on Gasol’s future returned many of the same answers: Chicago. Cleveland. Charlotte, if the Bobcats believe a Gasol-Al Jefferson front line can stop anybody. Memphis, if Zach Randolph opts out. Even after a disappointing season — and with the understanding that Gasol has never been a strap-a-team-on-his-back kind of player — Gasol will be among the most sought after free agents on the market.
“There are a couple thoughts out there on Pau,” says an Eastern Conference executive. “Some people say he is worn out, that he is too far past his prime to really help a contender. There are others that think that LA, that environment the past two season, that style of play has destroyed him and if he goes somewhere else, plays with a different coach, he might be rejuvenated. I could see someone who thinks the latter paying him $10 million a year.”
I bet that number is a little high, more like $8-$9 million.
I also bet that he bounces back — not to vintage form but to one that will really help the Bulls or Grizzlies or wherever he lands.
This summer he will play for Spain at the FIBA World Cup — taking place in Spain — and that will rejuvenate his love of the game. Then he will come into his next training camp and find a coach that wants to use him in a smart way in the post, putting his passing skills to use, and he will put up much better numbers. He will look better.