It was a virtual certainty that Pau Gasol would leave the Lakers in free agency last summer, after the team hit a downward spiral in terms of its ability to contend for titles, and following two straight seasons where Gasol himself was marginalized by the organization’s head coaches.
The only question would be which loaded team Gasol would choose to join. Money wouldn’t be a factor at this stage of his career; winning would be the priority instead.
While the Thunder offered the chance to play alongside two of the league’s top 10 players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the fact that Oklahoma City had little to offer the worldly Gasol from a cultural standpoint was evidently a major factor in his decision to sign somewhere else.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
This is obviously amusing on the surface, but it does speak to a greater reality where the NBA’s star level free agents are concerned.
Oklahoma City became one of the league’s top teams thanks to being fortunate enough to draft elite players in consecutive seasons; Thunder GM Sam Presti admitted as much.
The performing arts may not be as important to others as they are to Gasol, but things like weather, available nightlife and the ability to be less conspicuous in larger cities all factor into where players choose to play. And places like Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, and many others are always going to be at a disadvantage.
[via SB Nation]