Pau Gasol

No Deal For Pau Gasol, Barcelona

JULY 10: It appears Gasol won’t be joining his old team in Barcelona after all. Joan Bladé i Marsal, a member of the club’s board of directors, said there have been and will be no negotiations with Gasol, per Catràdio Esports (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando).

JULY 8: Free agent big man Pau Gasol appears to be nearing a deal to rejoin FC Barcelona, his former team in Spain, according to multiple reports.

La Resistencia del Palau first tweeted of “advanced negotiations” between Gasol and Barcelona, with Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops reporting today that the two sides are close to a one-year agreement that’s expected to be finalized later in the summer.

Gasol, who turned 40 on Monday, has played in the NBA since 2001, most recently appearing in 30 total games for San Antonio and Milwaukee during the 2018/19 season. The veteran center was briefly on the Trail Blazers’ roster to start the ’19/20 campaign, but foot issues prevented him from playing at all for the club, and he was eventually released.

Gasol’s decorated NBA résumé includes averages of 17.0 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 1,226 total regular season games for the Grizzlies, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs, and Bucks. He earned six All-Star nods and won a pair of NBA championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Even before he arrived stateside though, he had some memorable years in Barcelona, winning Spanish League titles in 1999 and 2001 and earning Finals MVP honors in ’01.

Although he has sat out the 2019/20 season, Gasol has repeatedly talked about wanting to play one more year and then participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which were rescheduled to the summer of 2021. Last month, he told Spanish media that he was intrigued by the idea of returning to the team with which he started his professional career.

“My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe,” Gasol said at the time. “A final season with the Lakers is attractive, finishing at Barça (Barcelona) is attractive, but you have to see the real possibilities and see what situation would be best for the circumstances of the moment.”

While Gasol and Barcelona don’t have an agreement in place yet, it makes sense that he’d choose that opportunity if it’s available — the timeline for the ’20/21 NBA season remains up in the air and there’s no guarantee there would be contract offers waiting for him in the fall.

And-Ones: P. Gasol, J. Burns, Diversity, More

Having previously expressed interest in the possibility of playing one final season with the Lakers, Pau Gasol spoke again this week about that scenario and once again opened the door to the idea of finishing his career in Spain.

As Tales Azzoni of The Associated Press details, Gasol believes he has to play in 2020/21 in order to give himself a chance of representing Spain in the Tokyo Olympics next July, which he wants to do. The big man, who turns 40 next month and has dealt with foot issues during the last year, specifically cited two of his former teams as desirable landing spots for next season.

“My intention is to play another season if the foot is OK, either in the NBA or in Europe,” Gasol told Spanish media, per Azzoni. “A final season with the Lakers is attractive, finishing at Barça (Barcelona) is attractive, but you have to see the real possibilities and see what situation would be best for the circumstances of the moment.”

Gasol’s storied career includes plenty of memorable moments with both the Lakers and Barcelona. He won a pair of NBA championships with L.A. in 2009 and 2010, and won two Spanish League titles in 1999 and 2001 with Barcelona, earning Finals MVP honors in ’01.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After testing the waters, Colgate guard Jordan Burns has opted to withdraw his name from the 2020 NBA draft pool, he announced on Instagram. A former Patriot Tournament MVP, Burns posted 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 34 games (32.4 MPG) for the Raiders as a junior in 2019/20.
  • The NBA’s only Latino president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas of the Timberwolves said this week that he hopes to see more diversity in front offices in the NBA and other sports leagues going forward. Eric Woodyard of ESPN has the story and the quotes from Rosas, who said, “You’re cheating yourself if you don’t have diverse perspectives.”
  • In an in-depth Insider-only breakdown for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks examines the biggest offseason questions facing the eight teams that won’t be part of the league’s restart in Orlando this summer.

Pau Gasol Interested In Finishing Career With Lakers

As Pau Gasol‘s professional career winds down, the legendary Spaniard says he would have interest in finishing his NBA career in the Lakers purple and gold, as Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints writes.

Gasol tells the outlet that while there have not been many opportunities to return to the team where he enjoyed his greatest successes, he would welcome the chance.

“It’s something that has been on my mind,” Gasol said. “Kind of like the potential of maybe finishing or playing my last year with the Lakers would be great. It’s appealing if you will, but the opportunity never really kind of presented itself in a serious official manner.

“I have a great relationship and love for (Lakers owner) Jeanie (Buss) and the Lakers organization and the city of Los Angeles, which is always going to remain extremely meaningful to me no matter what, but we’ll see…”

Gasol, 39, has not appeared in an NBA game since he appeared in 30 contests with the Spurs and Bucks during the 2018/19 campaign. The six-time All-Star signed with the Trail Blazers last July but was waived by the team before appearing in a regular-season game as a left foot injury hampered him.

After not latching on with another team, Gasol indicated in February that he hoped to suit up for Spain in the Olympics and was aiming for an NBA return. Given the coronavirus pandemic, Gasol will not get to suit up for Spain this summer, but would still like to play in the Olympics in 2021 if possible and hasn’t given up on a potential NBA comeback, even as he acknowledges that retirement isn’t out of the question.

International Notes: P. Gasol, Olympics, Italy, EuroLeague

Asked if he’ll be able to hang on for an extra year to represent Spain in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, veteran NBA big man Pau Gasol told ESPN’s Zach Lowe, “I’m going to try” (video link).

Gasol explained that he has to focus on rehabbing his injured foot before determining whether or not he’ll be able to play, noting that it’s hard to get tests done at the moment due to the closure of facilities.

Lowe also asked Gasol whether he’s considering the idea of finishing his career by playing one last season in Spain, and while the 39-year-old center acknowledged that he has weighed the possibility, he stressed that if he’s able to make a comeback, the NBA would likely still be his first choice.

Here are more odds and ends from around the international basketball world:

  • The qualifying tournaments for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will take place between June 22 and July 4, 2021, FIBA announced in a press release. Serbia, Croatia, Lithuania, and Canada will host those four qualifiers and are among the countries still vying for a spot in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.
  • The Lega Basket Serie A, Italy’s top basketball league, officially announced this week that the remainder of its 2019/20 season has been canceled, as Stefan Djordjevic of Eurohoops.net relays. The move had been expected. While Virtus Bologna ranked atop the league with an 18-2 record, no champion will be crowned.
  • Even as basketball leagues around Europe cancel their seasons, the EuroLeague continue to hold out hope that it will be possible to complete its 2019/20 campaign in some form, as it announced today in a press release.

And-Ones: P. Gasol, Draft, Barkley, 2K League

Veteran NBA big man Pau Gasol talked a couple times in February about the possibility of suiting up for the 2020 Olympics and potentially making an NBA comeback next season. However, with the Olympics being pushed back to 2021 and the NBA currently in a state of flux, Gasol’s comeback efforts are up in the air too.

Speaking to Spanish outlet El Pais, Gasol acknowledged that retirement is an option he continues to consider, given the current global basketball situation and his own recovery from a foot injury.

“With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said, per Keith Smith of NBC Sports. “Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, it’s definitely on my mind.”

Gasol says he’s focusing on the Gasol Foundation and his other off-court projects for the time being, while he continues to recover. A decision on his next professional step will come at a later date, according to the 39-year-old Spaniard, who adds that right now “the priority is to overcome this pandemic.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NCAA intends to work with the NBA to adapt to any changes to the 2020 draft calendar, NCAA senior VP of basketball Dan Gavitt said on Monday (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports). For now, with the draft still tentatively scheduled for June 25, NCAA early entrants have until the end of the day on April 26 to declare for the draft, and can withdraw at any time up until June 3 while maintaining their college eligibility.
  • Former NBA star and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley announced on Monday that he tested negative for COVID-19, as Marc Stein of The New York Times relays (via Twitter). Barkley was tested earlier in March after exhibiting some possible coronavirus symptoms.
  • Starting this Friday, the NBA 2K League will be hosting a completely online tournament called the Three For All Showdown, which will give fans, influencers, and top female 2K players an opportunity to challenge NBA 2K League teams. Arda Ocal of ESPN has the details on the tournament, which was created in response to the 2K League postponing its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And-Ones: P. Gasol, Player Options, 2020 Draft

Veteran big man Pau Gasol suggested earlier this month that he hopes to get healthy in time to represent Spain in the 2020 Olympics, and that he hasn’t given up on the possibility of an NBA comeback. Gasol, who will turn 40 in July, recently reiterated that point to Spain’s Agencia Efe, as relayed by Eurohoops.

“I understand that sooner or later, whether this summer, next season or another, my retirement is inevitable,” Gasol said. “I hope that the foot recovers so that it can allow me to play a little more. We will see how much more. Enjoy one last season.”

Gasol’s foot issues limited him to 30 games in 2018/19 and sidelined him altogether in 2019/20 before he was waived by Portland. At this point, a return to the NBA seems unlikely, but it would be great to see Gasol get healthy and get a farewell season in 2020/21.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes an early look at this summer’s player option decisions, projecting which players are locks to opt in or out, and which decisions will end up being a little trickier. Gozlan singles out Mike Conley, Andre Drummond, and DeMar DeRozan as complicated cases, since they won’t match their 2020/21 option salaries if they opt out, but they could earn more total money on new multiyear deals.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) takes a look at some draft-related storylines to watch over the next month in the NCAA, including the final games of Anthony Edwards‘ college career, Isaac Okoro‘s draft stock, and the logjam of first-round point guard prospects.
  • Speaking of Edwards, the Georgia guard remains atop Sam Vecenie’s 2020 draft big board at The Athletic. LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and Killian Hayes round out Vecenie’s top five.

Kyrie Irving Elected As NBPA Vice President

Nets guard Kyrie Irving was elected to the executive committee of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) today, replacing Pau Gasol as one of the union’s vice presidents, per an official release. Gasol’s three-year term as VP had expired.

“This was the right time for me to run for a leadership position in the NBPA,” Irving said in a statement. “I have been an observer and a participant in union affairs for a while, but for the most part, I was off on the sidelines, supporting our Executive Committee as they made important decisions. At this point in my career, I wanted to join forces with those guys and take a bigger role outside of the basketball court and within our union.

“I want to help move the union forward with innovative ideas, not only on social issues but also with business ventures into a new space. I am honored to be elected by my peers and I cannot wait to work with everybody to make an impact.”

Irving will join an executive committee led by union president Chris Paul and first vice president Andre Iguodala. The Nets star will be one of six NBPA VPs, along with Bismack Biyombo, Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, CJ McCollum, and teammate Garrett Temple.

Irving, who has missed Brooklyn’s last five games with a knee injury, is believed to be nearing a return, though the team has yet to announce whether or not that will happen this Thursday in Philadelphia.

Pau Gasol Aims For Olympics, Possible NBA Comeback

Pau Gasol hopes to represent Spain in the Olympics this summer and hasn’t given up on a return to the NBA next season, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Before either of those things can happen, Gasol will need to fully rehabilitate the left foot injury that forced him to undergo surgery last spring. Gasol, 39, signed with the Trail Blazers in July, but was never able to suit up for the team. Portland waived him in November.

“I’m in rehab right now, just focusing solely on and prioritizing getting my foot healed so I can get back out there and try to play again,” said Gasol, who was wearing a walking boot during an interview with ESPN Radio.

He admitted that retirement remains “a possibility” if the foot doesn’t heal the way he hopes. Gasol said it was a mutual decision with the Blazers to release him so he could do rehab work independently.

“We just agreed that it was better for me just to focus on the rehab and not have to be under a team kind of a schedule,” he added. “Just focusing solely and prioritizing my health, and from then we’ll see.”

Gasol played 18 NBA seasons and won a pair of championships with the Lakers. He played a combined 30 games for the Spurs and Bucks last year.

Pau Gasol To Join Blazers’ Coaching Staff

After being waived last month by the Trail Blazers, Pau Gasol intends to join the team’s coaching staff, head coach Terry Stotts confirmed tonight to reporters, including Casey Holdahl (Twitter link). Gasol is currently in Spain, but when he returns, he’ll officially come aboard Stotts’ staff.

Gasol, who continues to rehab a foot injury, was released by the Blazers before appearing in a single game for the team. At the time of that move, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Portland and Gasol were working on a potential coaching role for the veteran big man.

Taking on a coaching role doesn’t necessarily mean Gasol has decided to retire as a player. However, between his foot issues and his age (39), the odds may be against an NBA comeback at this point. The six-time All-Star played 77 games for the Spurs in 2017/18, but was limited to 30 games last season due to injuries.

It’s not yet clear when Gasol will return from Spain, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today.

Trail Blazers Waive Pau Gasol

6:12pm: The move is official, the Trail Blazers announced on Twitter.

3:50pm: The Trail Blazers have released veteran big man Pau Gasol, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Gasol himself announced the news on Instagram, suggesting he’ll now be able to “focus all my energy on my rehabilitation.”

As Wojnarowski notes, Gasol underwent surgery on his left foot in the spring and has remained sidelined this fall as he attempts to rehab that injury. According to Woj, Gasol and the Blazers are working on a potential coaching role for the 39-year-old as he remains in Portland for rehab purposes.

Hopefully Gasol can get back to 100%, since it would be unfortunate to see him forced into retirement for health reasons. At age 39, the odds may be against a comeback, but even if he doesn’t play in another NBA game, he has a Hall of Fame résumé, including four All-NBA nods, two championships, and three Olympic medals.

Portland is now back down to 14 players after signing Carmelo Anthony as its 15th man on Tuesday. The Blazers may keep that final roster spot open for now in order to avoid tacking more money onto their projected tax bill. However, the opening could come in handy if the team wants to add more frontcourt depth as Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins continue to recover from injuries of their own.

Interestingly, while Gasol was believed to be on a guaranteed minimum-salary contract, Wojnarowski says the Blazers “had protections” on that one-year deal. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that the agreement included an Exhibit 3 clause for a “prior injury exclusion.” That clause protected the Blazers in the event that Gasol’s left ankle and foot continued to cause problems, though it’s unclear exactly how much the team will save.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.