This summer, Pau Gasol signed with the San Antonio Spurs, sliding into the spot vacated by Tim Duncan.
Two years ago, he almost slid into a spot next to Tim Duncan.
During the free agency run of 2014 the buzz around the league was that Gasol was headed to Chicago or San Antonio (nobody thought he would stay with the Lakers after issues he had with Mike D’Antoni). Gasol chose Chicago, which at the time made them look like a real threat in the East (injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah over the past couple years meant the Bulls were not much of a threat to anybody).
“Two years ago I declined the option of going to the Spurs. Now it was the right time to go to San Antonio”, explained the Spaniard: “Popovich has he told me that I will contribute a lot and along with LaMarcus Aldridge, without Tim Duncan any more, I will be one of the leaders of the team in the front line”.
Two years later, you have to wonder if Gasol regrets choosing the Bulls? He’d never admit it publicly, and there was no way to predict everything that would happen with the Bulls, but someday he may look back on that decision and wonder “what if?”
While everyone is understandably touting the Warriors in the West this season, should they slip the Spurs are right behind them. This is a team that won a franchise-best 67 games last season with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way. Gasol brings them improved offensive skills at the five, although they will miss Duncan quarterbacking the defense. Heading into the season the Spurs are, at worst, the third best team in the NBA and serious title contenders.
And you know Popovich is going to put Gasol in positions that make the Spaniard look five years younger. Because that always seems to happen with the Spurs veterans.