Pau Gasol‘s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers may finally be coming to an end.
The power forward’s rocky 2013-14 season with the team — which has been marred by injuries and trade speculation — has apparently forced the two-time NBA champion to become beleaguered by the Los Angeles fans. According to Sports Illustrated, Gasol’s days in a Lakers uniform are all but numbered.
“There are a couple thoughts out there on Pau,” an Eastern Conference executive told Sports Illustrated. “Some people say he is worn out, that he is too far past his prime to really help a contender. There are others that think that LA, that environment the past two season, that style of play has destroyed him and if he goes somewhere else, plays with a different coach, he might be rejuvenated. I could see someone who thinks the latter paying him $10 million a year.”
The Lakers attempted to trade Gasol back in February, and were close to sending him to the desert as a part of the Western Conference-contending Phoenix Suns.
Gasol apparently is not a part of the Lakers’ future plans, though. There is speculation the team will wipe the slate clean this offseason, which includes firing head coach Mike D’Antoni and undergoing a complete overhaul of the roster. Along with Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Chris Kaman, Ryan Kelly, and MarShon Brooks are candidates to leave via free agency.
And the Lakers are reportedly eyeing 2015 free agent Kevin Love, who the team attempted to acquire via trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Love, like Gasol, is a power forward.
Gasol, who has fallen out of favor with the Lakers and their fans, has also seen his production decline without the likes of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash playing beside him. So will there be a market for the aging forward?
Some NBA executives believe the answer is yes.
Per the Sports Illustrated report, NBA personnel believes Gasol could join Eastern Conference contenders like the Chicago Bulls or Charlotte Bobcats, or teams looking to make a playoff push in 2014-15 such as the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies could take a chance on him if and when Zach Randolph opts of his contract. Gasol’s younger brother, Marc, plays center for Memphis.
A poll of NBA executives on Gasol’s future returned many of the same answers: Chicago. Cleveland. Charlotte, if the Bobcats believe a Gasol-Al Jefferson front line can stop anybody. Memphis, if Zach Randolph opts out. Even after a disappointing season — and with the understanding that Gasol has never been a strap-a-team-on-his-back kind of player — Gasol will be among the most sought after free agents on the market.
Where will Gasol land — who knows? It just seems that a divorce with the Lakers is imminent. And there will be suitors for the veteran big man.