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Lakers Rumors: Marc Gasol 'Not a Lock' to Return to LA for 2021-22 Season

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 20, 2021

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Marc Gasol is signed with the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2021-22 season, but he is "not a lock to return" to the team, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein (h/t RealGM).

"It’s not yet clear if that means Gasol is poised to be set free to play elsewhere in the NBA or if he would ultimately opt to finish his career in his home country like brother Pau," Stein wrote.

Gasol signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles last season and is owed a guaranteed $2.7 million in 2021-22.  

After representing Spain at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, the 36-year-old said he planned to return to the NBA and finish out his contract with the Lakers, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN. 

Gasol appeared in 52 games for the Lakers last season (42 starts), averaging 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for his lowest numbers in 13 NBA seasons.

He lost his starting job to Andre Drummond toward the end of the year and saw minimal action during the first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Despite his struggles, the center could be a valuable part of the Lakers rotation in 2021-22 as a strong defender who doesn't need many touches alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. After shooting 41.0 percent from three-point range last season, Gasol can also provide some needed spacing offensively.

Frontcourt depth is also needed with Dwight Howard as the only other center on the roster.

Without much cap space to work with, the Lakers would be hard-pressed to find an upgrade at the position.

Gasol could still choose to finish his career in Spain after starting professionally at Barcelona. Pau Gasol, 41, spent last season at Barcelona after sitting out the 2019-20 campaign. 

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