Entering the final year of his deal, Pau Gasol doesn’t want to go anywhere else. Whether the Los Angeles Lakers’ braintrust agrees with him, is another matter altogether.
The 33-year old center is looking to bounce back following a tough season — Gasol posted career lows in points (13.7), field-goal percentage (46.6%) and games played (49) — and desperately hopes he can stay in Purple and Gold once his contract runs out next summer.
Per the LA Times:
Gasol is finally in the last year of his contract, coming off a bunch of career lows last season and a knee procedure that sidelined him the entire summer. But he’s still here in Los Angeles, somewhat miraculously in NBA circles, more than 5½ years after a multiplayer deal, including Kwame Brown, helped turn him into a Laker. “I’m a survivor,” Gasol says self-deprecatingly. He’ll be a free agent next July after earning $19.3 million this season, but people only talk about the Lakers trying to sign LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony next summer, never about re-signing Gasol.
Can a four-time All-Star be underappreciated? Certainly. Is it possible to forget about a guy who had 19 points and 18 rebounds in a Game 7 victory in the NBA Finals? Entirely. But remember, Gasol was still on the court when the Lakers were destroyed by San Antonio in last season’s playoff sweep. “Last guy standing,” Gasol said ruefully, reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s season-ending injury and Dwight Howard’s Game 4 ejection as part of the failed championship expectations that accompanied a $100-million payroll. [...] “It’s nice to be here in the last year of my contract,” Gasol said. “I’d love to continue to play with the Lakers [next year]. We’ve been through so much together. Mostly amazing moments and some hard moments too. It’s like a relationship. If you’re still together, it shows improved strength and consistency and how solid the relationship is. Hopefully we’ll see if we can extend it.”
With Dwight Howard in Houston now, Gasol will be the Lakers’ go-to-guy in the post. GM Mitch Kupchak says that, health permitting, the Spaniard will become an NBA All-Star once again this season.
Pau Gasol has survived plenty of turmoil during his time in Hollywood, and can’t imagine himself playing in any other city. It’s hard to picture him elsewhere, but not impossible.