Pau Gasol’s season came to an inglorious end Sunday, as he was ruled out for the final three games due to vertigo. Gasol is set to become a free agent this summer, and the Lakers say they’d love to have him return. Per the LA Times and Daily News:
He won’t make close to the $19.3 million he pulled down this season with the Lakers, but he’ll be a popular guy when free agency begins.
“It’s a great position to be in,” he said Sunday. “It’s rare. The first time I will ever be in that position.”
It’s no secret that he dislikes Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. It’s also no secret that the Lakers will eventually weigh whether D’Antoni returns for the final guaranteed year of his contract.
By the time Gasol’s contract officially expires in a few months, he will know D’Antoni’s fate. Maybe there’s even a possibility of reuniting with the Lakers.
“I think there’s chances,” he said carefully. “It depends what the conditions are going to be, and then I’ll decide what’s best. At this point in my career, I just have to be picky, put my personal feelings aside and look at the whole picture.”
“There’s great interest in re-signing Pau back,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “I don’t know why there would not be interest. He’s a Hall of Famer. But by virtue of being a free agent, he’s in the market place. By being in the market place, we have to see how things play out.”
Gasol helped the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two championships immediately after he was acquired in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. But ever since then, Gasol’s future with the Lakers has become as tenuous as a television pilot cementing its place in the network lineup.
“Statistically, he had a season that’s on par with the seasons in the past,” Kupchak said. “But that’s not how we evaluate success. I think he played as hard as he can play and his numbers are good. But as an organization we didn’t win many games. It was a bad season for everybody. I know with his injuries and his vertigo, it’s been a trying season for him physically.”