It certainly didn’t seem as though Marc Gasol planned to leave the NBA after the 2020-21 season. The former Defensive Player of the Year signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason and got off to a great start with the defending champions. Then, everything changed when Anthony Davis got hurt. The Lakers recruited Andre Drummond to replace Gasol as their starting center in the middle of the season and relegated the future Hall of Famer to spot duty from that point onward. After the season ended, Gasol returned to his native Spain to play for Bàsquet Girona, and at the time, it appeared as though his NBA career was over.
“In the NBA they know I haven’t closed the door,” Gasol said. “Now I wanted to do this thing (play at Girona) and they understood it, perhaps more than many people here in Spain. The door is not closed. I am not saying that I will return or that I am evaluating it, but I know that there is interest on their part … at the moment I am focused on Girona.”
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Gasol added that he has gained confidence in his body while playing abroad, though his playing style was never based on his physicality. Gasol aged gracefully as an NBA center because of his defensive instincts and remarkable passing vision. Pair those traits with an improved 3-point shot and Gasol would fit on almost any roster willing to play a more conservative defensive scheme.
Gasol will turn 37 before the end of January. Even if he can make it back to the NBA, his time as a professional basketball player is likely running short. But a player of his caliber deserves a better ending than the one the Lakers gave him last season. If he wants to return to the NBA, he shouldn’t have much trouble creating a better one.