How many times over the past couple of seasons has Pau Gasol almost not been a Los Angeles Laker? Five? Ten? Gasol has had more lives than a cat in Los Angeles. He’s almost been traded to Houston (Basketball Reasons!), Cleveland, Memphis, Phoenix, and probably a couple of other places that we don’t know about. However, Gasol has remained a Laker throughout the course of his contract. But now, finally, Gasol has a chance to determine his own future and sign with any team he wishes. The question is would Gasol considered coming back to the place that has made him a Hall of Fame candidate? Well, according to Gasol he would consider it, mostly because of his relationship with one Kobe Bryant.
“Re-signing for the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one,” Gasol wrote this week on his personal Web site. “If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another tournament and where I can be an important factor in the game.”
Gasol has the right to explore all of his options and pinpoint the franchise that will maximize his skill set, give him the best chance to win, and also pay him fairly. He will certainly visit with a ton of teams and he will have opportunities to join another team. He may be a fit in Toronto, Memphis or a number of other franchises. However, none of those franchises are the Lakers and none of them have Kobe Bryant. Like Gasol stated, there is a chance he would return to Los Angeles. He’s only going to come back if Bryant and the organization convince him that they are going to get back on the path towards a Championship. Gasol would prefer to get back on that path without Mike D’Antoni at the helm.
“I’ve never concealed the fact that D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game,” Gasol wrote. “Everybody knows this. I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”
It seems that Kobe and Pau are convinced that D’Antoni is not the go-forward coach that the Los Angeles Lakers need. Most of Laker Nation would agree with this sentiment. However, the organization has mixed feelings about brining D’Antoni back and may choose to retain the coach in order to avoid buying out the rest of his $4M contract. If D’Antoni is the coach next season, it would mean that the Lakers would be moving forward without Gasol. While the organization is highly interested in retaining Gasol, it may not be the best fit at this time.
Personally, I would be surprised to see Pau Gasol in the forum blue and gold next season.