It has been a rough season so far for Spurs big man Pau Gasol, who averaged a career-low 6.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG in a part-time role during his first nine games before being sidelined with a foot injury. However, despite his declining role and his health issues, Gasol believes he still has plenty left in the tank and isn’t contemplating the idea of calling it a career anytime soon, as he tells Jabari Young of The Athletic.
“In two summers, I might think about it a little more,” Gasol said of his eventual retirement. “It might be an option then, maybe. And maybe not because I love what I do. I work my ass off to do what I do at this stage, to keep up with the pace of the game and the progress and the development of the game today. I take pride in that. That’s what makes me who I am.”
Gasol, who made his NBA debut 17 years ago this month, is under contract for one more season with the Spurs beyond 2018/19. His $16MM salary for that season is only partially guaranteed for $6.7MM though, so San Antonio could save over $9MM by cutting him during the summer of 2019. It’s not clear yet what the Spurs’ plans for him are, but Gasol sounds like someone committed to continuing his career for at least one more year whether or not it happens in San Antonio.
While his playing time and his overall numbers are down this season, Gasol has still shown that he can be effective in a limited role when healthy. He has averaged 3.3 APG and 1.0 BPG in just 17.4 minutes per contest, and his .512 FG% would be his best mark since 2010/11.
Still, a $16MM salary for a backup big man is a steep price to pay, so Gasol could find himself on the free agent market next July, seeking a new NBA home as he prepares to celebrate his 39th birthday on July 6. For now, he’s working his way back from his foot injury in the hopes of returning to the Spurs’ lineup sooner rather than later.