Pau Gasol is expected to play a big role for the San Antonio Spurs in the upcoming season. But as early as now, there are speculations suggesting that the Spaniard will return home — to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gasol had the best years of his career in Los Angeles, where he won two NBA championships. But after having tumultuous seasons during his final years in Los Angeles, Gasol left for the Chicago Bulls.
The 36-year-old played two seasons in Windy City, where he proved that he still has a lot of gas left in his tank. He averaged 16.5 points and 11.0 rebounds on top of 4.1 assists last season. Apart from his stats, the 15-year veteran also made his mark with the way he led the team.
Gasol’s leadership qualities is one of the main reasons why he could end up returning to the Lakers, Hoops Habit reported. The six-time NBA All-Star signed a two-year contract with the Spurs but has an option to become a free agent again next summer, getting the opportunity to make a homecoming of sorts in 2017.
“Los Angeles has completely rebuilt its roster since 2014, adding an exciting new head coach and plenty of young talent,” Hoops Habit noted. “The retirement of Kobe Bryant cost them their veteran leader, which is a role Gasol could fill with ease.”
The report added that if Gasol continues to produce well next season, there is a good chance the Lakers will offer a lucrative deal to entice the European basketball icon. He will be a big boost to their young frontline and could serve as mentor to Julius Randle.
However, the Spurs are not expected to let him walk away that easy. Tim Duncan is gone after announcing his retirement this summer. Most analysts, including Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders, are convinced Gasol is the perfect replacement for Duncan in San Antonio.
“All Gasol wants to do is all he has ever done — play at the highest level,” Hamilton noted. “So please, with that in mind, name one player that would have been a more appropriate replacement for Tim Duncan.”