The Los Angeles Lakers have some serious decisions to make this offseason, and whether to bring back Pau Gasol or not is one of them. The 33-year-old center has struggled since Mike D’Antoni took over. Injuries haven’t helped, as Gasol has played in 65 or less games each season since the 2010-2011 campaign. He loves playing with Kobe Bryant, but does he enjoy it enough to stay in LA?
On Wednesday, Gasol wrote at length about his impending free agency on his personal blog. Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers shared a translation of some of the more noteworthy remarks.
“Re-signing for the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one,” Gasol wrote. “If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another (championship) and where I can be an important factor in the game.”
Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 60 games this season. Given his inability to stay healthy, he can expect to make far less than $19 million per season on his next contract. Gasol’s name has been at the center of a number of trade rumors over the past two seasons, mostly because of his inability to succeed in D’Antoni’s system. He alluded to that on his website.
“I’ve never concealed the fact that D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game,” Gasol wrote. “Everybody knows this. I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”
It seems obvious that Gasol would rather play for someone else. Rumor has it Kobe feels the same way, so it might make life easier for everyone if D’Antoni doesn’t return next year. And if he does, the team may decide not to bring Gasol back anyway.
“Money isn’t important to me,” he added. “I have other priorities. A contract lasting several seasons, the make-up of the team that signs me: I’ll need to think long and hard. I won’t just go to the franchise that offers me the biggest salary, I know that.”
Everyone wants to win a championship, and common sense tells you there is too much uncertainty surrounding the Lakers for them to contend next season. If Gasol decides to leave, it would cloud the picture even more.