Exclusive: Pau Gasol addresses returning to Lakers for final year of career
Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol hasn’t dawned the purple and gold since 2014. The veteran forward played a pivotal role in the Los Angeles Lakers winning back-to-back titles a decade ago, but in the aftermath of the vetoed Chris Paul trade and the failed rebuild with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash that followed, Gasol decided to leave the team in NBA free agency.
Since signing with the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2014, Gasol has played for the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks. Now, after three stops following his successful stint with the Lakers, the future Hall of Famer is contemplating his future in the twilight of his basketball career.
Recently, Gasol spoke with ClutchPoints about the 10th anniversary of the Lakers’ back-to-back titles as well as Bryant’s passing, and we asked him whether he has ever seriously considered returning to Los Angeles.
“Seriously considered? It’s not that I’ve had many opportunities,” Gasol told ClutchPoints. “It’s something that has been on my mind. Kind of like the potential of maybe finishing or playing my last year with the Lakers would be great. It’s appealing if you will, but the opportunity never really kind of presented itself in a serious official manner.
“I have a great relationship and love for Jeanie and the Lakers organization and the city of Los Angeles, which is always going to remain extremely meaningful to me no matter what, but we’ll see. But not really.”
You can hear snippets from Pau Gasol’s interview with ClutchPoints on the latest episode of the Battle for LA Podcast.
Gasol was the consummate professional and pushed forward even though the team tried to trade him along with Odom for Paul back in 2012. He swallowed his pride and made the best of his situation and had Kobe and Nash been able to stay healthy; things may have changed during the team’s playoff run, which ultimately turned out to be a sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round with Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock in the backcourt.
The real question moving forward for Gasol is if he wants to play one more season in the NBA in an attempt to end his playing career on a high note. The Lakers currently have a stacked frontcourt with Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Howard patrolling the paint for Los Angeles, but next season things could change. If Gasol is healthy, he could be an intriguing addition to a team with championship aspirations, even if it is strictly as a mentor or in a limited role.