“I’ll be in charge of my future and my destiny. This could be my last day with the Lakers, maybe.”
Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is likely to have multiple suitors on the open market, though it’s not probable he’ll receive anywhere near the $19 million he made this season. He could sign with the highest bidder or try to find a spot with a contender.
Where will Gasol end up next season? We asked some of our staff for his most likely landing spot.
Michael Dunlap, Editor in Chief, @DunlapNBA
The issue of where Pau Gasol lands really comes down to one thing — Gasol’s motivation. If it’s money, he’s not going to end up on a contender. The two most rumored destinations (Memphis and New York) can’t pay him much of anything. Will another suitor come into play and offer him enough to pull him away? Phoenix seems like an interesting thought, as they need some help in the middle and would welcome some playoff experience. With that said, Gasol has made over $156 million during his career. He could go to Memphis to play with Marc, but they don’t need him. New York needs him and he could reunite with Phil Jackson. If Carmelo Anthony stays, I expect Gasol to land in New York via their mid-level exception.
Phil Watson, Assistant Editor, @FurtherReview
I see two destinations as most likely for Pau Gasol. I don’t, however, see the Knicks as a player for him because Gasol would have to (a) believe the Knicks have championship aspirations in 2014-15 (he’s said he wants to go to a contender) and (b) accept a mid-level exception of roughly $3.2 million.
The wild card in this is a return to Memphis. If Zach Randolph opts out of the final year of his deal—not likely, since he’s due $16 million for 2014-15—Gasol could team with his brother Marc in the city where he emerged as an All-Star in the early 21st century.
Phoenix could make a run for Gasol, as well. The Suns have said they wanted to add star power and Gasol would bring that, and he would be an upgrade over the production they got from Miles Plumlee and Alex Len this season. That might be enough to push them over the top and into the playoffs.
Gerald Bourguet, Assistant Regional Editor, @GeraldBourguet
PHOENIX!! No, just kidding. Please, dear God, don’t let that happen because I was kidding. But in all seriousness, can you think of a place that’s used to overpaying power forwards that are way past their prime and probably don’t have much to offer? Can you name a team that would think such a futile acquisition could elevate their tormented basketball city back into title contention? And whose arms do you think Pau Gasol will run to when the inevitable messy breakup between him and the Los Angeles Lakers comes to pass? If you answered New York, the Knicks and Phil Jackson, you are correct! The Lakers have treated Gasol like an expendable piece for years and his time as a centerpiece on a title team is done. When LA makes Gasol a weak offer and the Zen Master works his magic, don’t be surprised to see him in the Big Apple.
Maxwell Ogden, NCAA and Houston Rockets writer, @MaxwellOgden
The Memphis Grizzlies. Pau Gasol has secured his place as one of the greatest international players in basketball history. Two NBA championships, four All-Star Game appearances and countless European and Spanish League awards make him a Hall of Fame-caliber player. At this point, the only thing left for Gasol to do is pad his legacy and continue pursuing titles. The best way for him to do that is to reprise the one frontline that, to this day, gives Team USA trouble. By re-joining Memphis, where he’s already the all-time leading scorer, he’d pair up with brother Marc Gasol and potentially replace Zach Randolph in the pursuit of glory.