Veteran big man Pau Gasol is set to become an unrestricted free agent during the 2014 offseason. According to a tweet from Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy, citing an interview with Marca.com, the talented Spaniard considers four teams at the top of his wish list.
The four-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion listed the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs as potential landing spots. That will all depend on mutual interest between Gasol and the front-office personnel within each organization moving forward.
It’s clear that the 7-footer has put an emphasis on winning. However, he hasn’t ruled out loyalty by listing the Lakers and their uncertain future.
Pau’s interest in L.A. dates back to February, when he said the following, per the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan: “My preference would be to stay. That’s what I’ve been saying all year, though the circumstances are difficult right now for our team and nobody’s too happy. But it’s still my team and I still want to be here.”
Although Gasol said that remaining in Lakerland was what he had “been saying all year,” that simply was not the case.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old called a potential return to Memphis “appealing” in December, per NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper. He added, “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.”
Pau and his younger brother Marc Gasol won silver medals for Team Spain during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. If nothing else, it would be very interesting and entertaining to see the talented brothers play beside each other in the NBA.
Of course, that outlook depends on the future of incumbent interior force Zach Randolph.
Z-Bo has a player option he can pick up for the 2014-15 season to the tune of approximately $16.9 million, per ShamSports. He will leave a frontcourt opening for Gasol if he opts out and tests free agency. That may prompt the Grizzlies to mix up their roster, but retaining Randolph may be a priority, regardless.
The Spurs should be considered the most appealing option from a winning standpoint. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and head coach Gregg Popovich are well on their way to another NBA Finals appearance in 2014. Adding Gasol to that aging core would likely help boost their title hopes a year from now. They’re already championship contenders without his skill set being involved.
Chicago, meanwhile, will have to do some housekeeping before it can mull the veteran as a feasible option.
It’s clear that the 13-year pro still has plenty left in the tank. He dominated in January by averaging 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field.
Nevertheless, there are some health concerns. He missed 22 games due to varying ailments during the 2013-14 campaign.
Gasol has options to choose loyalty with the Lakers, family with the Grizzlies or chase a ring with the Spurs/Bulls. There’s reason to believe that each of those teams would have interest if certain variables fall into place.
Oftentimes money is a key factor, though. Don’t be surprised if Gasol ultimately joins up with the highest bidder.