Bucks center Pau Gasol won’t return before the end of the 2019 postseason, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, Gasol underwent successful surgery on Thursday to repair a navicular stress fracture in his left foot.
The Bucks confirmed that Gasol’s recovery timetable should put him in position to make a full recovery in advance of training camp. However, since the big man is on an expiring contract, there’s a good chance he’ll no longer be on Milwaukee’s roster when he’s ready to return to action in the fall.
General manager Jon Horst and the Bucks’ front office made a series of savvy roster additions before and during the 2018/19 season, but the signing of Gasol on the buyout market looks like one of the club’s few missteps. After being waived by the Spurs and arriving in Milwaukee in early March, the six-time All-Star appeared in just three games, averaging 1.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 10.0 minutes per contest.
Gasol was never expected to be a major part of Milwaukee’s playoff rotation, so his absence likely won’t have much of an impact on the team’s ability to advance even deeper in the postseason.
Still, the Bucks may regret the decision to keep Gasol on the roster over young power forward Christian Wood when they needed a roster spot to sign Tim Frazier later in March. After being claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, Wood averaged 16.9 PPG and 7.9 RPG in eight games (23.6 MPG) down the stretch, and he remains under contract at the non-guaranteed minimum for 2019/20. Pau didn’t an appear in another game for Milwaukee after Wood’s release.
Gasol, who will turn 39 this July, said back in the fall that he wasn’t considering retiring anytime soon, and still hoped to play during the 2019/20 season. We’ll see if a disappointing, injury-plagued season changes his outlook at all, but for now it’s safe to assume he’ll try to make it back from this foot surgery and catch on with an NBA team for training camp.