Two-time NBA Champion Pau Gasol is dealing with a severe case of Vertigo, and has likely played his final game as a Laker.
The past couple of seasons in Los Angeles have been difficult for the Spaniard. Despite putting up above-average numbers, Gasol has been under-appreciated and on the trade block non-stop since Phil Jackson left the team back in 2011. It is now a foregone conclusion that Gasol will be taking his talent elsewhere when he hits free agency this summer, and according to Sports Illustrated, there will be no shortage of teams pursuing Pau.
Gasol, though, will have options. 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.”
While it’s easy to understand some teams being cautious in their pursuit of Gasol, the fact of the matter is he is still a very talented big man that can contribute at a high level if given the opportunity. Gasol has been lost in the shuffle since Mike D’Antoni has taken over as Laker head coach, and seems to just need a change of scenery.
It will be interesting to see how free agency plays out and if Gasol makes the Lakers regret undervaluing him.