Lakers player reviews: Pau Gasol

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
10:00
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Mike D'Antoni and center Pau GasolJennifer Stewart/USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol and Mike D'Antoni were far from a perfect fit. Will Gasol play under the next coach?

Pau Gasol

2013-14 salary: $19,285,850 | Age: 33 | Season stats: 17.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG

Season recap: Coming into the season, for the first time since his Memphis Grizzlies days, there was nothing holding Gasol back. He was healthy and rested after undergoing non-invasive procedures on both knees during the summer. There was no Dwight Howard in the way pushing him out to the perimeter. There was no Kobe Bryant on the court limiting his touches. Mitch Kupchak and Mike D’Antoni said they were hopeful Gasol would return to All-Star form heading into the season. It didn’t take long for that hope to dissipate. The big man came out of the gates slowly, shooting just 43 percent from the field in November and 46 percent in December. He found his rhythm in January (20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game on 51 percent shooting), but by then the Lakers were already out of the hunt.

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Season highlight: During a 21-point night in a win against the Brooklyn Nets in November, Gasol passed Detlef Schrempf as the second-highest scorer in NBA history by a European player. His monster line of 23 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks in a win over the Utah Jazz in January also is worth mentioning.

Season lowlight: A blanket statement would mention his porous rim protection that often nullified his offensive prowess. In terms of an actual moment, however, it would have to be his bizarre bout with vertigo that caused him to miss 12 out of the final 13 games for the Lakers.

Final grade: C+

Notes: The dynamic between Gasol and D’Antoni continued to be an uncomfortable partnership for much of the season. While the two veterans were professional enough to find some sort of common ground, it was obvious that neither was the perfect fit for the other. Beyond D’Antoni, some of the equity Gasol built up over three NBA Finals runs and two championship seasons started to erode. There were murmurs about Gasol’s desire throughout the season and, as the seventh highest-paid player in the league, the 13-year veteran did not deliver on all of the expectations placed upon him.

Quotable: "The last few years I always kept on my mind that this could be my last day here, so let me try to enjoy it. That's kind of been my mindset quite often the last couple years. This could be my last day, maybe, there's a chance. But I try not to think about it. Whatever happens, it's going to work out for the best. I'm very privileged and I've had an amazing career until this point. I want to continue to build on my career and prolong it as long as I can at a high level." -- Gasol said at his exit interview.

What's next? Has Gasol played his last game as a Laker? It sure seems that way. Months ago, Gasol wrote a blog post on his personal website stating his top priority at this point in his career is finding a situation in which he can contend for another championship. That does not seem to be possible in L.A., at least in the immediate future. There is a chance the Lakers will offer him a lucrative one-year deal -- say in the $8 million to $10 million range -- with the plan of keeping as much cap space available for the summer of 2015 as possible. At that point, depending on which max-level free agents the Lakers could convince to join them, perhaps Gasol would be interested in signing another extension at a lower rate to finish out his days with Bryant and the Lakers.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
25.2 4.8 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.6
AssistsK. Bryant 4.8
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2