Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol To Miss About A Month With Ankle Injury

The injury news keeps getting worse for the Bucks, who will be without center Pau Gasol for roughly a month because of an injured left ankle, tweets ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

With the playoffs set to start in three weeks, Gasol should be considered questionable for the entire first round. The 38-year-old center has played just three games — and 10 total minutes — for Milwaukee after reaching a buyout agreement with the Spurs three weeks ago.

Gasol told Matt Velasquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday that the ankle had been bothering him, but he was getting it treated and was following the team’s recovery plan (Twitter link).

The news caps off a nightmarish week of injuries for the Bucks, who lost Malcolm Brogdon probably through at least the first round of the playoffs with a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot and then saw Nikola Mirotic sidelined for 2-4 weeks with a fractured thumb.

Central Notes: Bucks, Mirotic, Cavs, Boylen

The Bucks haven’t won a postseason series since 2001, but general manager Jon Horst believes this is the year the team breaks that streak, and potentially makes a much deeper playoff run, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“This is a time for us to take a step forward and to win a playoff series,” Horst said. “Even though people are sleeping on the Bucks, I think if we bowed out in the first round, everybody would be like, ‘What in the hell happened?’ Me included. That would be a disappointment.

“But it would be a significant thing for us to advance, because we haven’t done it in so long and it would be a big step for this group. But I think the metrics line up where if we can do that and stay healthy, and stay together, have some lucky breaks along the way, I think the talent and the performance thus far would show you that we should be playing into June, hopefully.”

As Amick explores in his deep dive on the Bucks, the team has enjoyed the sort of camaraderie and chemistry this season that Horst believes can play a significant part in a club’s success. In Horst’s view, that sort of enthusiasm to come into work extends to all aspects of the organization in Milwaukee, rather than just the 15 players on the NBA roster.

“Quite honestly, I’ve fired people in our organization because they can’t get excited about working for a franchise that has a brand new arena, a brand new practice facility, Giannis Antetokounmpo as a superstar, Mike Budenholzer as a head coach, and the ownership that we have,” Horst said. “And I say, ‘If you can’t get excited, and wake up in the morning to be part of that, then you don’t belong.’ That’s from a staffing perspective, and a player perspective, on down. That’s the culture. That’s the filter that we’ve tried to establish.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Nikola Mirotic, who arrived in Milwaukee just a few weeks before Pau Gasol did, played a key role in ensuring his fellow Spaniard ended up with the Bucks, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. When Gasol was presented with the opportunity to leave the Spurs via buyout and was considering joining the Bucks, he asked Mirotic for his impressions of the organization. “I said, ‘Listen, man, I really feel this team is special and if you want to be part of something special you should join this team,'” Mirotic said, per Velazquez. “That’s all I told him and I really felt that way.”
  • During the Cavaliers‘ four-year run as Eastern champs, they ultimately gave up on Joe Harris, who has since evolved into an important contributor in Brooklyn. Now that they’re in the midst of a rebuild themselves, the Cavs are looking to find “value in the margins” by identifying players like Harris, who may slip through the cracks elsewhere, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.
  • Count Sixers head coach Brett Brown among those who believe in Jim Boylen‘s ability to lead the Bulls. Before his 76ers fell to Boylen’s squad on Wednesday night, Brown praised the Bulls’ head coach for getting the most out of his players, calling him the right person to “help steer this program” through its rebuild (link via Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago). While Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg during the season, he’s expected to return as Chicago’s coach next season.

Pau Gasol Clears Waivers, Signs With Bucks

MARCH 3, 6:10pm: Gasol has officially signed with the Bucks, according to a team press release.

MARCH 3, 4:30pm: Gasol has officially cleared waivers, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. San Antonio will have a $15.92MM cap hit this season and $5.07MM in 2019/20, Marks adds.

MARCH 2, 10:12am: Gasol gave back $2.5MM in salary as part of his buyout with the Spurs, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The move will allow San Antonio to lower their salary cap hit for Gasol for both this season and next.

MARCH 1, 5:32pm: The Spurs and Gasol have officially finalized the big man’s buyout, the team announced in a press release.

“Pau Gasol is an exceptional individual and the ultimate professional,” Popovich said in a statement. “We are grateful for his contributions on the court, in the locker room and in our community.”

MARCH 1, 3:46pm: The Spurs and Pau Gasol have reached an agreement on a contract buyout, which will clear the way for the veteran big man to reach free agency and join a new team, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

March 1 is the last day that a player can be waived by one team and retain his postseason eligibility for another club, so San Antonio figures to finalize the move before the end of the day in order to give Gasol the opportunity to participate in the playoffs for his new team.

That new team will be the Bucks, as Gasol intends to sign with Milwaukee once he clears waivers, Wojnarowski reports. The Bucks had been on the lookout for one more frontcourt player, having been linked to Marcin Gortat earlier today.

Gasol, whom we identified as a potential buyout candidate in February, has appeared in just 27 games and averaged a career-low 12.2 minutes per contest in San Antonio this season. Limited by injury issues early on, the 38-year-old hadn’t been a regular part of the team’s rotation even after getting healthy, as LaMarcus Aldridge, Davis Bertans, and Jakob Poeltl handled the majority of the minutes up front.

While Gasol’s scoring numbers are way down, he has still been effective in other aspects of the game on a per-minute basis in 2018/19 — his 13.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per 36 minutes are both career bests.

Gasol is unlikely to play a major role in Milwaukee, but he could be an important insurance policy off the bench – particularly in the postseason – on a roster that doesn’t feature many traditional bigs. Joining the top-seeded Bucks could also give Gasol the chance to match up with his brother in the postseason — Marc Gasol is, of course, a member of the Raptors, the East’s No. 2 seed.

Although the Bucks currently have a full 15-man roster, one of those players – Isaiah Canaan – is on a 10-day contract, so he’s the likeliest candidate to be the odd man out when Milwaukee officially signs Gasol.

The exact terms of Gasol’s buyout with the Spurs aren’t yet known, but in addition to the prorated amount remaining on his $16.8MM salary for 2018/19, he had also been owed a $6.7MM partial guarantee on next year’s salary. San Antonio figures to slightly reduce that cap charge for 2019/20 as part of the buyout agreement, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

Marks also observes that, unlike J.R. Smith‘s contract, Gasol’s deal was signed under the current CBA and would have been subject to the new trade rules for non-guaranteed salaries in the offseason. That means the Spurs could only have counted the guaranteed portion of his deal ($6.7MM) rather than the full amount ($16MM) for salary-matching purposes if they had tried to deal him this summer, significantly limiting his appeal as a trade chip. That’s likely one reason why the Spurs didn’t feel the need to hang onto him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Iguodala, Gupta, Vesely, Williamson

Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala was elected First Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, according to an NBPA press release. Iguodala has been on the Executive Committee since February 2013. He replaces LeBron James, whose four-year term has expired.

The BucksMalcolm Brogdon, the CelticsJaylen Brown and the HornetsBismack Biyombo were elected to serve as VPs on the Executive Committee. They replace Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry and Iguodala.

Chris Paul remains President of the committee with Anthony Tolliver, Pau Gasol, C.J. McCollum and Garrett Temple also serving on it.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Pistons assistant GM Sachin Gupta never knew ESPN’s Trade Machine would become so popular when he created it in 2006, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Gupta called it a “fun project” and took about a month to write the code for the Trade Machine when he worked for the network, Beard adds. “It’s not meant to replace common sense. It’s not meant to replace any GM’s job,” Gupta said. “It’s simply based on the rules and whether it works or not.”
  • Former NBA player Jan Vesely has signed an extension with Fenerbahce that keep him under contract until 2022, the Turkish team tweets. The 7-foot power forward was drafted by the Wizards with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft but only lasted three NBA seasons.
  • Stephen Curry is a fan of Duke’s Zion Williamson, considered the top prospect in this year’s draft, he said in an interview with The Undefeated and relayed by E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News. “He’s unreal. We were talking about him the other day in our team room,” Curry said, via Justin Tinsley of the Undefeated. “He has a lot of hype around him and he’s unbelievably talented, but you can’t teach his passion and the way that … he plays. He plays hard every possession, and that’s an underrated skill that kids can kind of emulate.”

Pau Gasol Denies Requesting Trade From Spurs

Whispers that the Spurs were making Pau Gasol available in trades prior to the deadline circulated and it’s possible that the big man had requested the team search for a suitor. Last week, an ESPN Deportes report suggested as much, but Gasol disputed that rumor today.

“What’s the source?” Gasol said of rumors of him requesting a trade (via Tom Orsborn of My San Antonio). “What’s the validity of that story? I don’t know. I didn’t request to be traded.”

The report did not cite a source, instead simply stating (translation from Spanish) that Gasol had asked the team for a trade. The 38-year-old did admit that the current situation is not what he expected it would be.

“I think people understand or can figure out that my situation is not what was expected for me,” Gasol said when speaking with the local media today. “My only wish and desire is to be able to contribute to the team and be able to be on the floor and do what I am supposed to do and do what I signed here to do, and kind of live up to what I am paid for.”

The Spurs re-signed the Spaniard to a three-year, $48MM deal back in the summer of 2017 with visions of continuing the Gasol-LaMarcus Aldridge pairing. However, this season, Gasol has struggled to find a consistent role. In his 26 games played, he has played no more than nine minutes in 10 of them, while seeing 20 minutes or more on just three occasions.

Only $6.7MM of Gasol’s roughly $16MM salary for the 2019/20 campaign is guaranteed and Orsborn writes that the Spurs have looked at ways to “rid themselves” of what’s left on the big man’s deal. Could that be via a buyout? Gasol was asked about the possibility.

“There are a lot of rumors, a lot of stories,” he said. “Who knows where that comes from. It would be great if people say, ‘Hey, this person has said this.’ OK, then let’s talk to this person…But I don’t know. It didn’t come from me. So ask whoever that source or that outlet found that information. Go ask them. I think that’s just fair. Or ask management, right?”

Gasol believes he can still contribute. “I love this game,” he said. “I love what I do. I work hard to be able to do what I do, and I want to continue to do it. I know I may not be in my prime, but I think I can still contribute at a very high level and be an important impact for my team and make my team better.”

Lawrence’s Latest: Bucks, Mirotic, Sixers, Gasol

No one seems convinced that the Bucks are a viable suitor for Anthony Davis, given their dearth of first-round picks and the fact that most of their best players are on expiring contracts. However, co-owner Marc Lasry is still encouraged by the fact that Davis’ four-team list of preferred destinations includes Milwaukee, as he tells Sporting News’ Mitch Lawrence.

“I saw that report, and I think it’s great,” Lasry said. “It’s a little bit of what we want. We want players to come and play in Milwaukee. And part of it is, when you’re winning and you’re setting a standard for excellence, people see that. People want to win. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re in Milwaukee, New York or L.A. The whole goal is winning. So we hope it would be players like Anthony Davis and others who want to come to Milwaukee.”

Lasry, who may be bordering on tampering territory with his comments to Lawrence, acknowledged that it would be tricky for the Bucks to make a deal for Davis using the club’s current assets.

Here’s more from Lawrence:

  • The Bucks are working on a smaller trade or two, according to Lawrence, who identifies Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic as one potential target for Milwaukee. “He’d be the perfect fit for the Bucks,” an Eastern Conference general manager said of Mirotic. “Another guy who can knock down threes would make them even more dangerous.”
  • The Sixers are another team interested in Mirotic and have offered the Pelicans a pair of second-round picks for him, per Lawrence. For salary-matching purposes, Wilson Chandler would likely have to be involved in any 76ers deal for Mirotic. Philadelphia has also looked at Terrence Ross (Magic) and Wesley Matthews (Knicks), Lawrence notes.
  • An Eastern Conference GM tells Lawrence that the Spurs are making an effort to move Pau Gasol. Gasol is on a pseudo-expiring contract, as only $6.7MM of his 2019/20 salary is guaranteed.
  • Lawrence suggests that the trade market for Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol may be negatively impacted by Gasol’s desire to get a contract extension this summer. If he doesn’t feel as if he’ll get a lucrative multiyear deal in the offseason, the 34-year-old could pick up his $25.6MM player option.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, The Brothers Gasol, Introduction Videos

More often than not, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey finds a trade partner ahead of the annual deadline. Although it didn’t happen last year, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes that the team is confident something will transpire this time around.

While the mid-season additions of Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried have impacted the Rockets’ list of needs, the club could still benefit from making a move for a versatile defender with three-point range.

Morey is said to be extremely active in talks so far this year and the Rockets even offered four first-round picks for Jimmy Butler prior to his trade to the Sixers.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets care not for your factoid about James Harden scoring 304 consecutive unassisted points, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes. Perhaps more impressively, Mike D’Antoni has coached the two players with the next highest streaks as well (Chris Paul and Steve Nash).
  • In 2008, the Grizzlies packaged up star big man Pau Gasol and sent him off to the Lakers in exchange for Marc Gasol and a pair of first-round picks. Over a decade later, the brothers could theoretically be swapped again. While Marc has established himself as a franchise staple, the soon-to-be rebuilding Grizz are said to be open to offers for him. “There’s a part of me that would like that,” Marc told David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He still has a place here.
  • Wednesday night brought a brief moment of levity for a fan base that’s been kicked in the pants repeatedly this week when the Pelicans removed Anthony Davis from the introduction video that plays for fans at the Smoothie King Center, Bleacher Report tweets.

Spurs Have Inquired On Wing Players

While the Spurs typically aren’t too active on the trade market during the season, they’ve inquired about possible targets on the wing over the last few months, league sources tell Jabari Young of The Athletic. According to Young, San Antonio had interest in Trevor Ariza but couldn’t put together a package that would work before he was sent from Phoenix to D.C.

Young isn’t 100% sure that the Spurs remain in the market for a wing, but identifies Pistons forward Stanley Johnson as one player who could be on the team’s radar. As Young points out, Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright was part of Detroit’s front office in 2015 when the Pistons drafted Johnson eighth overall, and is believed to still be a big fan of the 22-year-old.

The 20-26 Pistons are tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference and may not be overly interested in moving Johnson as long as they remain in the hunt for a postseason spot. However, if Detroit considers moving the RFA-to-be, the club could seek a protected first-round pick or a pair of second-rounders, says Young.

With only a few months left on Johnson’s contract and the Spurs viewed as a difficult trade partner with whom to negotiate, a trade may be a long shot, Young notes. Nonetheless, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on as February 7 approaches.

Here are a few more notes out of San Antonio:

  • Pau Gasol looks like one of the more obvious trade candidates on the Spurs’ roster, but a league executive tells Young, “I just don’t see him having any trade value.” Gasol has played limited minutes since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for a good chunk of the season.
  • Here’s what Gasol had to say when asked if he’d prefer a change of scenery and an opportunity to play more, according to Young: “I’m trying to adjust and keep things in perspective. Everything has a positive outcome. I’m glad my foot is reacting well, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to build on my minutes and my contribution to the team. Will I love to play more and have a bigger role? Absolutely, because that’s the kind of player and competitor that I am. But at the same time, I follow the coach’s directives, and you got to fulfill a role, whatever that role is. And that’s what you get paid to do. That’s a part of your job as a player.”
  • Spurs general manager R.C. Buford didn’t rule out the possibility of making an in-season trade, adding that the club will “answer the phone” in the coming weeks. However, as Young relays, Buford also didn’t sound overly eager to make any changes. “Our guys are playing well,” Buford said. “You don’t want to disrupt the chemistry.”

Texas Notes: Smith Jr., Barea, Nene, Gasol

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is willing to welcome Dennis Smith Jr. back to the team whenever he’s ready, relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Smith hasn’t played in the past four games — officially because of back soreness and an illness — and didn’t join the Mavs for their current road trip. He also didn’t report for Friday’s practice.

“This is just my feeling, is that he’s being told to stay away for whatever reason,” Carlisle said on his weekly radio show. “I just don’t want people out there to think he is snubbing the Mavs or anything like that. This is just my opinion, I believe there’s business stuff going on, and he’s being told to stay away. Listen, if that’s what they feel is in his best interests, he should trust his advisers. But it’s unlike him not to want to be with his teammates. I do feel strongly that people should not look at Dennis in this situation now and judge him harshly, that he’s doing something against his teammates or the Mavs or anything like that. I just think this is a business-type situation, and this is what he’s being advised to do.”

Sources told MacMahon that Smith is frustrated over changes to his role on the team with the arrival of Luka Doncic, but the Mavericks remain hopeful for a reconciliation. Smith’s agent, Glenn Schwartzman, didn’t return text messages and phone calls seeking a comment. Carlisle said he also reached out to Smith and Schwartzman.

There’s more NBA news out of Texas:

  • Mavericks guard J.J. Barea expects to be out of action for six to nine months after surgery to fix a torn right Achilles tendon, tweets Dwain Price of The 34-year-old, who suffered the injury last week, will be a free agent this summer.
  • The Rockets won’t ask Nene to play more minutes with starting center Clint Capela sidelined after thumb surgery, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The team expects to bolster its frontcourt by signing Kenneth Faried once he clears waivers Monday. “Coach has a plan,” Nene said. “We have other big men. We have young big men, too. They will get those minutes. Coach will decide when I am going to play.”
  • Pau Gasol has been back in the Spurs‘ starting lineup in four of the past five games, but the move hasn’t resulted in more playing time, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. He has averaged just 11 minutes per game during that stretch. “At this point, I’m just doing my best with the opportunity and the conditions I am playing under,” Gasol said.

Texas Notes: Gordon, Knight, D. Smith, Gasol

The Rockets‘ backcourt, already depleted by Chris Paul‘s hamstring injury, may be even more shorthanded after Eric Gordon limped off the court late in last night’s win at New Orleans. Gordon will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of a bruised right knee, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gordon tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he banged knees with someone early on and the pain increased throughout the game.

“I don’t have an answer right now,” Gordon said Saturday about the possibility of missing games. “I’ll know a lot more tomorrow probably. My knee is a little painful to play. We’ll see what happens. I hate to come out of the game like that, being injured.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Rockets guard Brandon Knight was willing to accept a G League assignment to get more playing time, Feigen writes in a separate story. As a seven-year veteran, Knight could have refused, but he wants to get on the court as much as possible after missing a year and a half following an ACL tear. “It’s just an impossible situation with us,” coach Mike D’Antoni explained. “He played very limited minutes. He would have wasted three or four months just sitting there watching. That’s what the G League’s made (for.) More guys should probably take advantage of it. Our team uses it a lot.”
  • Rumors that the Mavericks are looking to trade second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. are way overblown, announcer Chuck Cooperstein said in a radio interview excepted by The Dallas Morning News. Marc Stein of The New York Times recently reported that executives around the league expect Smith to eventually be moved because of the emergence of rookie Luka Doncic, but Cooperstein stressed that the story never indicated Dallas is actively looking for a deal.
  • Spurs center Pau Gasol was on the active roster for the first time in nearly two months Friday, but it’s not clear what his role will be for the rest of the season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. Jakob Poeltl has been averaging nearly 20 minutes a game, and coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t explained how he plans to fit Gasol back into the rotation. “He’s Pau,” Popovich said before last night’s game. “He does what he does. … He’s a good passer. He’s been doing the same thing for a million years.”