[Update 3.10PM 07/07/2014] Gasol, while listening to offers from other teams, has indicated that he will re-sign with the Lakers if they can land Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James in free agency. Pau is still hot property on the FA market, but the Lakers appear to be in the box seat to should they be able to improve the roster with a big name player.
Pau Gasol has long been the subject of trade rumors since joining the Lakers late in 2007 and has dealt with his fair share of critics, but now, the 7 foot Laker big man is a free agent and the interest around the NBA has been huge.
Averaging over 17 points a game throughout his career, Gasol helped the Lakers to two successive titles in 2009 and 2010, but has since been a part of a team struggling to regain everything which made them one of the most formidable franchises in all of sports.
What feels like a cast of thousands have walked through the doors of the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo since Pau arrived, with the Spaniard withstanding some harsh judgement on the part of the fans and much of the LA media throughout his time there. Along with the aging Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol has been the true icon of loyalty and dedication to a franchise who badly needed it.
But here we are, summer 2014, and the Lakers and Pau are both trying to get back on the path to resurrection. Gasol, who has been so loyal, looking to get back to playing winning hoops and the Lakers, such a proud organization, desperately trying to find someone to guide them into a new era, of post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles basketball.
Pau has, unsurprisingly, been hot property so far in free agency, drawing interest from a number of teams including the Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Bulls and Lakers. The 7-footer provides a big offensive presence for these teams, with the Thunder looking the perfect fit so far, followed by the Knicks and the Bulls.
While this is all well and good, Gasol will still command a mighty pay check, somewhere in the $8-10 million a year area, making teams think twice before jumping on him. Most teams that will consider Gasol will already have a contending front line, indicating they may only be willing to use the mini-mid level on Gasol. With that said, it is unclear whether Pau will be interesting in accepting a considerable pay cut to play contending basketball.
Forever the scapegoat of Los Angeles’ cut throat media, and often the fans too, Gasol will surely take the time to consider his options and what situation benefits him most going forward. Carmelo Anthony has expressed a desire to play alongside him (in New York or LA, it’s not yet clear), and the Heat have also come a’knockin’ this morning, while the Thunder stay hot on his heels.
Given his undying loyalty to Kobe and the Lakers, perhaps the NBA’s perennial nice guy is finding it just a little bit harder to say goodbye than once thought.
One thing is for sure however…
There will be a purple and gold jersey with the number 16 hanging in those rafters at Staples Center one day.