Pau Gasol

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Nowitzki, Mills, Pelicans

Despite an injury to his left ankle at Eurobasket, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol says he is healthy and prepared to start the season, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes.

“My body feels really good,” Gasol said. “It was a freak accident. A guy dived for the ball and landed on my leg. It was kind of a sprain on my left ankle but it’s fine. For 15-20 minutes, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to play but it worked out great.”

In the same story, Tillery writes that Brandan Wright is in good standing with the Grizzlies after seemingly being displeased with the team following an early playoff exit last season. The team created playing time for Wright by not re-signing veteran Zach Randolph. Now, the team enters the new season with a rejuvenated confidence from two of its key assets.

Read about more happenings around the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes 2017/18 could be Dirk Nowitzki‘s final season. However, the outspoken Cuban also feels Nowitzki may want to surpass Kobe Bryant‘s record of 20 straight seasons with one franchise, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). The coming season will be Nowitzki’s 20th in Dallas.
  • Pau Gasol has shed 10 pounds since last season ended and the 37-year-old is looking forward to helping the Spurs this season, Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News writes. As Gasol explains, his free agency didn’t involve “a whole lot of flirting with other teams,” since potential suitors knew he wanted to return to San Antonio.
  • The Spurs re-signed Patty Mills quickly after the conclusion of last season. Mills believes the swift move was an indicator of his importance to the team, Melissa Rohlin of San Antonio Express-News writes.
  • The Pelicans have DeMarcus Cousins, a slew of veterans, and a young stalwart in Anthony Davis entering the new season. Larry Holder of writes that the team understands it is either now or never if the team wants to win since Cousins and the veterans may be gone next year.
  • Former North Carolina coach Mark Gottfried will be a scout for the Mavericks this season, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link).

Pau Gasol Re-Signs With Spurs

July 24: The signing is official, according to a team press release. The deal will be for $48MM over three seasons with the final year’s salary being partially guaranteed, Adrian Wojnarowski of reports (ESPN Now link)

July 21: Veteran center Pau Gasol has agreed to a three-year contract with the Spurs, Adrian Wojnarowski of reports. The third year will be partially guaranteed, Wojnarowski adds.

Gasol opted out of the final year of his contract this summer but was expected all along to rejoin the Spurs. Gasol, 37, left $16.2MM on the table when he made that decision but he wanted to facilitate the team’s offseason.

The tradeoff was getting a couple more years of security. That helped the Spurs sign several free agents, including Rudy Gay.

Gasol played a lesser role last seson for San Antonio than he had for other clubs. However, he remained efficient when he did play. Averaging a career-low 25.4 minutes per game, the Spaniard chipped in 12.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.1 BPG. He also developed into a three-point shooter, shooting an eye-popping 53.8% from outside, with 0.9 threes per game.

Pau Gasol Opting Out, Plans To Re-Sign With Spurs

Pau Gasol will turn down his player option for the 2017/18 season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). However, Gasol intends to work out a new deal with the Spurs that will allow him to continue his career in San Antonio, Wojnarowski adds.Pau Gasol vertical

Gasol’s decision could have significant implications for the Spurs’ offseason and the club’s pursuit of free agents. The veteran big man would have earned about $16.2MM if he had exercised his option, but it sounds as if he’s willing to accept at a lesser rate to remain with the Spurs. The team will likely tack on a second or third guaranteed year to repay Gasol for taking a pay cut in 2017/18.

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: San Antonio Spurs]

Depending on how much Gasol’s salary is reduced, the Spurs could open up an extra chunk of cap room that will allow the team to be players in free agency. Without taking Gasol into consideration, San Antonio already has nearly $73.5MM in guaranteed salaries on its books for 2017/18. That doesn’t include possible deals for Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, and Jonathon Simmons, and still wouldn’t leave enough room to sign a veteran to a maximum salary contract, but removing Gasol’s option from the equation is the first step toward creating some flexibility.

Gasol saw his numbers drop off substantially during his first season with the Spurs, as he played a lesser role for the team than he had for other clubs. However, he remained efficient when he did play. Averaging a career-low 25.4 minutes per game, the Spaniard chipped in 12.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.1 BPG. He also developed into a three-point shot, shooting an eye-popping 53.8% from outside, with 0.9 threes per game.

As our player option decision tracker shows, the Spurs are also waiting to hear from David Lee about his minimum salary player option for 2017/18.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spurs Notes: Ginobili, Hanga, Gasol, Mills

The end of the Spurs’ playoff run puts Manu Ginobili in a familiar position of deciding whether he wants to return for another season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Ginobili, who will turn 40 in July, received two standing ovations late in Monday’s game from Spurs fans, who understood that it may have been his last night in the NBA. After 15 seasons, Ginobili said he will be in no hurry to decide if he wants another one. “I always wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, four weeks, whatever,” Ginobili said. “Then I will sit with my wife and see how it feels.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recognized the magnitude of the moment, giving Ginobili his first start in three years. Ginobili responded with a 15-point, seven-assist performance that showed he might still have a future in the NBA. “It may or may not be the last game he ever plays in,” Popovich said. “I did not want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our home fans.”

There’s more news as the offseason begins in San Antonio:

  • Ginobili is among several veteran free agents on the roster, and the Spurs expect most of them to return next season, McDonald notes in the same story. Patty Mills and Jonathon Simmons will both be free agents this summer, although Simmons will be restricted, and Pau Gasol, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon all have player options for 2017/18. LaMarcus Aldridge said the team still has unfinished business to address. “To get here with so many new guys and so much new transition going on, it’s not a bad season,” he said. “I don’t think guys are satisfied with it. To get to the conference finals wasn’t our goal.”
  • If Ginobili retires, the Spurs will consider bringing over Adam Hanga to replace him, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. The Hungarian swingman was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Euroleague. San Antonio has owned his rights since drafting him with the 59th choice in 2011.
  • Gasol sounds like his mind is already made up about returning, relays Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Gasol, who turns 37 in July, signed a two-year contract last summer that includes a nearly $16.2MM option for next season. “I look forward to continuing to grow” in San Antonio’s system, he said after Monday’s game.
  • Mills plans to consider his options carefully before free agency starts, tweets Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Mills, 28, has spent the past six years in San Antonio and made close to $3.6MM this season.

Western Notes: Galloway, Carraro, Mavs, Gasol

Langston Galloway came to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade and didn’t get much playing time initially, but he’s finding the court now as the team begins to rest its veterans. Coach Dave Joerger credits the point guard for staying ready even though he wasn’t receiving consistent minutes, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays.

“I think he has a survivor mindset. … That mindset that, ‘you know what, when I get my opportunity I’m going to be ready’ and he’s done that,” Joerger said. “He’s practiced hard, he’s worked hard and he’s been ready, keeping himself ready for whatever minutes may come.”

Galloway is making $5.2MM this season and he can become a free agent during the summer if he turns down his $5.434MM player option for the 2017/18 campaign.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro has resigned, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Carraro has been with Los Angeles since 2000.
  • It would be shocking if the Mavericks don’t select a point guard in the upcoming draft, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas currently owns the ninth spot in our Reverse Standings and there should be several point guard prospects worthy of being selected at the top of the draft.
  • Offseason addition Pau Gasol added the 3-pointer to his game and Jeff McDonald of the Express News notes that the big man has made over 54% of his attempts from downtown. That figure, which isn’t likely to decrease severely over the next few games, is by far the best percentage for a 7-footer in NBA history. Gasol has fit in well since coming to the Spurs and he has one more season on his contract after this one.

How Pau Gasol Is Fitting In With The Spurs

The Spurs signed Pau Gasol to a two-year, $30MM deal over the summer and he began the year in the starting lineup, something he’s done at every stop during his career. Yet, since coming back from a hand injury in February, he’s come off the bench. That’s not something that bothers the big man; he’s more concerned with winning.

“Right now we’re the second-best record in the league and we’re in a good spot,” Gasol said (via Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press). “That was the key reason why I came here.”

His 3-point range is giving the Spurs exactly what they need as they get set for another playoff run. He’s taking more shots from behind the arc (making 53,5% of them) than he has during any season in his entire career. “I’m trying to survive in this league that is evolving continuously,” Gasol said recently. Gasol’s ability to shoot from long-range has allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to thrive from inside the arc, Krawczynski notes.

Gregg Popovich didn’t intend for Gasol to play away from the basketball as much. “We didn’t sit him down and say now Pau, part of your role is going to be [shooting 3s],” Popovich said. “But it’s sort of evolved with the spacing and the way we do things with LaMarcus out there. It just evolved that way. He’s been successful at it so we just kind of let it roll.”

Gasol’s contract contains a player option for the 2017/18 campaign, meaning the Spaniard ostensibly could become a free agent again this offseason. However, it was previously reported that he intends to opt in and stay with the team. “My intention is to continue here, and to be here as long as I can,” Gasol said earlier this season.

The former No. 3 overall pick has been a great fit in San Antonio. He’s helped the team claim a record of 57-16, which is the second-best mark in the league.

The only team with a better record: the Warriors. The Spurs are one of two franchises that Golden State has not beaten this season (the Wizards are the other team, though the Warriors host them next weekend). The Spurs won the first two meetings and they’ll play again on Wednesday night. If San Antonio makes it three straight against the defending Western Conference champs, Gasol may not get much attention, but he’ll deserve credit for how he’s altered his game for the betterment of the team.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Knicks, P. Gasol, Raptors

The Sixers‘ announcement last week on Joel Embiid‘s knee surgery sounded like a positive one — the procedure was successful, and the team expects him to resume basketball activities this summer in preparation for the 2017/18 season. Still, as John Smallwood of The Philadelphia Daily News writes, it’s hard not to be a little skeptical, given the way the 76ers have handled injury news this season.

While the Sixers may not have intentionally misled fans on the details of injuries to Embiid and Ben Simmons this season, the team’s handling of both players created more confusion than clarity. And as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, that process seems to be repeating itself with Jahlil Okafor, whose status as of late has raised more questions than answers.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • Pau Gasol received plenty of interest in free agency last summer before signing with San Antonio, but he was surprised not to receive a call from the Knicks, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knicks president Phil Jackson coached Gasol in Los Angeles years ago, but Jackson had “tunnel vision” when it came to free agent centers last summer, pursuing Joakim Noah without seriously considering Gasol, Berman writes.
  • Although the Knicks hope to identify a long-term answer at point guard this offseason, they aren’t a lock to take one with their first-round pick, a source tells Berman. Depending on where New York’s pick lands, it could make more sense for the club to grab a prospect like Kansas forward Josh Jackson.
  • With several key players, including Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, on track for free agency this summer, the Raptors will have to think long and hard about their next steps. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines a few potential direction the club could go in the coming months.
  • The numbers may not show it, but Amir Johnson is a valuable piece for the Celtics, says A. Sherrod Blakely of Johnson is in the final year of his contract and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Southwest Notes: Noel, Pau, Ginobili, Dirk, Curry

Since Tyson Chandler left the Mavericks following their championship in 2011, the club has been on the lookout for a long-term center, settling for a series of stop-gap solutions instead. As Tim MacMahon of writes, the Mavs may have finally found a permanent answer at the position after acquiring Nerlens Noel at this year’s trade deadline. Noel will be a restricted free agent this summer, but Dallas is willing to pay big money to keep him in the fold.

“I definitely feel like I’m in a position to be a long-term situation here,” said Noel, who was sent from the Sixers to the Mavericks a month ago. “There are a lot of things that come into it, but I’m definitely comfortable in the system. I’m going to continue to grow as this season ends and continue to capitalize on my opportunities and maybe even get more opportunities.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Asked once again about the possibility of eventually returning to Barcelona to finish his basketball career, Pau Gasol reiterated that it’s unlikely, per (via Sportando). However, Gasol didn’t completely rule out the idea. We recently identified Gasol’s 2017/18 player option with the Spurs as one of several offseason decisions to watch.
  • As Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio details, Manu Ginobili recently hinted in an interview with LU2 Radio Bahia Blanca in Argentina that this season could be his last in the NBA. While the longtime Spurs guard didn’t explicitly state that he plans to retire this summer, he admitted that he doesn’t think his career will “go much longer” as his 40th birthday nears. “Now, basketball is not a priority and I live more peacefully,” Ginobili said. “My priority is my family, my children.”
  • Like Ginobili, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is in the twilight of his career, but tells Michael Lee of The Vertical that he’ll keep playing as long as he still loves the game and his health continues to hold up. And if he ultimately retires with just one championship ring, Nowitzki will be satisfied with that. “I want to win,” he said. “I’d love to be on a great team again. And to play for a championship again, but I’m a big believer in whatever happens, happens. I’ll keep plugging for as long as it goes and then it’s time to go away.”
  • Many basketball fans simply know Seth Curry as Stephen Curry‘s brother, but the Mavericks sharpshooter is blazing his own NBA trail and enjoying a breakout season in Dallas, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.

Five Key 2017/18 Player Option Decisions To Watch

With the NBA’s salary cap on the rise, most veterans who faced player option decisions a year ago chose to opt out of their deals in search of a larger payday. In fact, only three of last year’s 29 player options were exercised, and none of the three players who picked up their options – Tim Duncan, Mo Williams, and Caron Butler – have played an NBA game since then.

That trend will almost certainly continue this season, albeit perhaps not to the same extreme. For the most part, if a player remains healthy and productive headed into the offseason, he’s far more likely to turn down his player option in search of a longer-term deal than he is to opt in for one more season.

That’s not necessarily true in every case though. There are a handful of big-name players facing option decisions who aren’t considered locks to decline those options, for a variety of reasons. Let’s dive in and examine some of those looming player option decisions…

Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade vertical
Team: Chicago Bulls
Option value: $23,800,000

In free agency last summer, Wade reportedly received multiple offers in the same range as the Bulls’ $47MM proposal. The Heat’s two-year offer was believed to be worth a little less, while the Nuggets’ offer was said to be worth a little more.

A year later, Wade is coming off one of the worst seasons of his long and productive career. His .434 FG% and 3.9 APG represent career lows, and his 18.6 PPG is his worst mark since his rookie season, though the same can be said about his 30.2 MPG — his per-minute scoring numbers didn’t drop off significantly. The 35-year-old is also currently recovering from an elbow fracture.

If Wade were to opt out and become a free agent, it seems unlikely that he’d inspire a bidding war like last year’s. But he’s still an incredibly talented scorer, and I expect he’d receiver offers on the open market worth more than $23.8MM overall, even if his salary for 2017/18 wouldn’t be quite that high.

It’s also worth noting that Wade’s year in Chicago hasn’t exactly represented the storybook homecoming he might have hoped for. The Bulls’ season has been marred with dysfunction, rotation confusion, and a late-season slide that will likely keep the club out of the playoffs. Even if Wade isn’t confident in his ability to land more money in free agency, perhaps he’ll want to decline his option just to have the opportunity to choose a new team.

Rudy Gay
Team: Sacramento Kings
Option value: $14,263,566

Back in September, Gay informed the Kings that he intended to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2017, and it sounded at the time like Gay would probably be leaving Sacramento. Six months later though, he’s less certain about his future.

Much of that uncertainty can be attributed to his health. If Gay were finishing out the season strong and potential suitors this summer didn’t have to worry about injuries, opting out would be an easy choice. But Gay continues to recover from an Achilles tendon tear, which he suffered in January.

Shortly after suffering the injury, Gay issued a statement that was aggressively optimistic about his rehab, suggesting that he fully anticipates being ready for the start of the 2017/18 season. Even if that’s the case though, will teams in July be prepared to bid on Gay with full confidence?

The veteran forward may prefer to leave Sacramento, but it might ultimately make more sense for him to opt in, take his time getting back to full strength, and hit the market in the summer of 2018 after rebuilding his value. The Kings’ trade of DeMarcus Cousins last month signaled a significant change of direction for the franchise, so they might even look to trade Gay to a more favorable destination for him if he does opt in.

Gordon HaywardGordon Hayward vertical
Team: Utah Jazz
Option value: $16,736,710

On its surface, Hayward’s player option decision looks like an easy one. He has been one of the best forwards in the NBA this season, and he’ll be in line for a maximum-salary contract – or something very close to it – if he hits free agency this summer.

However, Hayward’s place among the NBA’s top forwards is exactly what complicates his option decision. As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk outlines, earning a spot on one of the three All-NBA teams this year would make Hayward eligible for a designated veteran extension from Utah, meaning he could earn up to 35% of the cap instead of 30% — but only if he picks up his player option and then signs a new extension.

Becoming one of those six All-NBA forwards won’t be an easy task for Hayward, given his competition. But the situation creates an interesting predicament for the Jazz. Would they want Hayward to earn an All-NBA spot and become eligible for that more expensive extension? It would likely increase their chances of keeping him, but it would also mean potentially tying up a ton of money in a player who is probably one or two tiers below the NBA’s top superstars.

Pau Gasol
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Option value: $16,197,500

After earning All-Star nods in each of his two seasons with the Bulls, Pau Gasol has had to adjust to a reduced role this season in San Antonio. Gasol’s 25.7 minutes per contest this season is easily a career low, but he has been about as effective as you’d expect when he does play — his .504 FG% is his best since 2011/12.

Gasol will turn 37 this summer, and if he decides to opt out and return to free agency, potential suitors would have to determine whether his reduced role is simply a result of playing in the Spurs’ system, or if he’s getting to a point in his career where he’s no longer capable of being a full-time, All-Star-caliber starter.

At 52-15, the Spurs have the NBA’s second-best record and look like one of the few teams with a legit chance to win this year’s championship. Depending on how the postseason plays out, Gasol could continue to prioritize that title chase and opt in for another year in San Antonio. But if he’d prefer to join a team that would give him one more chance to play 30+ minutes per game, perhaps he’ll opt out look elsewhere.

Greg Monroe
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Option value: $17,884,176

The uncertainty surrounding Monroe’s player option was one reason why the Bucks had such a hard time trading him over the last year or so. Teams wanting to secure Monroe for multiple years were worried that he’d opt out in 2017, while teams wanting to acquire him while maintaining cap flexibility for the 2017/18 season were concerned that he’d opt in.

As Monroe prepares to finish another season with the Bucks, that option decision doesn’t look any clearer. His fit in Milwaukee wasn’t great initially, but like Gasol in San Antonio, he has adjusted to a role off the bench this season and is playing some very efficient ball.

Monroe’s 18.8 points per 36 minutes represent a career high, and his .528 FG% is his best since his rookie year — while he may not be having the sort of impact you’d expect from a player earning his kind of salary, the former seventh overall pick has been a key piece of the Bucks’ rotation as an interior scorer off the bench.

Still, Monroe is still just 26 years old, and his strong play in limited minutes for Milwaukee this season may convince him that he should have a larger role. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn down a 2017/18 payday of nearly $18MM in search of a team that can give him that larger role, along with a longer-term contract.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Rumors: Parsons, Barea, Cuban, Gasol

Chandler Parsons is frustrated by his subpar play but Grizzlies coach David Fizdale indicated Thursday that the small forward will remain in the rotation, Michael Wallace of reports. Parsons signed a four-year, $94MM free agent contract last summer but has battled knee injuries while averaging 6.1 PPG on 34.5% shooting in 19.5 MPG. Fitzdale said Parsons remains a big part of the team’s plans this season but admits Parsons is feeling the heat. “He feels like he’s letting his team down, he feels like he’s letting this city down, and he doesn’t want that,” Fizdale told the assembled media.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Point guard J.J. Barea hopes he can return to action during the Mavericks’ five-game homestand that begins on Friday, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Barea hasn’t played since January 20th after straining his left calf. Barea joined the team on their road trip to Atlanta on Wednesday to work out with team’s training staff, Sefko adds.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would like to see the team grab a playoff spot but doesn’t see a downside regardless of how the season plays out, Sefko writes in a separate story. Dallas currently trails the Nuggets by 3 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. “To me, it’s a win-win,” Cuban told Sefko. “If we lose, we get a better draft pick. If we win, we get in the playoffs.”
  • Spurs center Pau Gasol doesn’t mind coming off the bench, as Michael C. Wright of relays. Gasol found himself on the second unit this week after returning from a fractured finger on his left hand. Dewayne Dedmon started at center. “I think [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] is trying to do a good job of putting the best lineups and how they work together, and also maximizing everyone’s talents,” Gasol told Wright. “With the second unit, I have more opportunities to score, to play my game. With the first unit, it’s a little more limited, my options.”