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Blazers’ Pau Gasol says he sacrificed playoffs with Bucks to get ready for next season

Pau Gasol, Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers added what could be the last piece of their offseason in 39-year-old big man and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol.

Gasol — a 7-footer who can play both power forward and center position and has been in the NBA for 18 seasons — is a six-time All-Star and two-time league champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. He last played for the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks during the 2018-19 campaign, but he was sidelined during his brief tenure with Milwaukee while nursing a foot injury.

The injury prevented Gasol from competing with the Bucks on the hardwood in the postseason, where Milwaukee fell to Kawhi Leonard and the eventual-champions Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, Gasol is saying he had to give up playing in the playoffs in order to recover and get ready for the upcoming season.

“I had a rough season last year with the injury,” Gasol said, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. “I did decide to take the surgery when I did because it would give me a chance to be ready by training camp for next season despite saying no to the chance of playing in the playoffs.”

The Bucks replaced Gasol by signing Brook Lopez’s brother, Robin Lopez, this offseason. They also improved their frontcourt depth by adding former Phoenix Suns lottery pick Dragan Bender to a two-year deal.

The Blazers, meanwhile, acquired Gasol as most likely the finishing touch to a busy offseason, which saw Portland fan-favorites Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless be traded and ex-Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside enter the fray.