Pau Gasol has publicly stated that he loves the Los Angeles Lakers and the city, but he might want to sign with another team who can contend for a championship after his contract expires according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com on Dec. 11:
“While he is definitely interested in staying and his affection for the organization is obvious, the 33-year-old power forward about 6 1/2 months away from free agency said his hopes to win another championship will weigh heavily on what he does in July and possibly greater than the opportunity to stay in a familiar setting or even money. Especially since there may be another familiar setting out there.”
Gasol’s future with the Lakers has been in question for a couple years now. He has been on the trading block a few times now and his return to the Lakers after his contract expires is doubtful. Most do not expect the Lakers to re-sign Gasol this upcoming off-season, but he might not be willing to come back even if the Lakers offer him a contract.
With Bryant’s contract limiting the Lakers in free agency, Gasol might look to sign with a team built to make a few more runs at the NBA Finals. Gasol does not seemed motivated by the size of the contract, but he is more concerned with spending his last part of his career with a title contender.
One team seems to appeal to Gasol is the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol began his career in the NBA in Memphis and may not be opposed to finishing it there playing alongside brother, Marc Gasol. The two-time NBA champion talked about the possibility of returning to the Grizzlies via Howard-Cooper:
“It’s appealing,” Pau Gasol told NBA.com. “One of the best centers in the NBA, one of the best interior players, is my brother. There’s a lot of attractive factors there. But who knows if that’s even a possibility or if that will ever happen. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on (the Lakers’ opponents) and staying healthy and playing a very successful year so this team and others will have the certainty and the confidence that I am a difference maker, that I am an elite player and I have a lot of years in me.”
There's no telling if the Lakers will be able to compete next season or the season after with Bryant as the focal point of the team. Mitch Kupchak and company will attempt to draw free agents to Los Angeles, but it may not go as planned or be as easy as it has been in the past.
With that being said, the Grizzlies may take a run at Gasol in an effort to pair the brothers in the Memphis frontcourt. The Lakers' desire, or lack thereof, to bring Gasol back will determine his fate at season's end.
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