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Marc Gasol says he will return to Lakers next season

Lakers center Marc Gasol

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 2: Marc Gasol #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 2, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

After Spain lost to Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics men’s tournament quarterfinals, an emotional Pau Gasol announced he would not play internationally again and that it might be the end of his Hall of Fame career.

His brother, Marc Gasol, said after the game he is not retiring — he is headed back to the Lakers for one more season.

Gasol had an up-and-down season in Forum Blue and Gold, with the Lakers going out mid-season and signing Andre Drummond, promising Drummond the starting center spot and a larger role. Gasol called it a “tough pill to swallow” at the time, but by the time the Lakers needed a win in Game 6 against the Suns in the playoffs it was Gasol back in the starting lineup.

Drummond is gone, and Gasol chose to return rather than retire. He will split time with Dwight Howard as the centers that let Anthony Davis play more at his preferred four — although if the Lakers are going to seriously contend this season, they will eventually need to play Davis a lot more at the five. With Russell Westbrook on the court, the Lakers will need the floor spacing of Davis at center. Bottom line, Davis is their best player at the position on both ends of the court, and it’s not particularly close.

This offseason, the Lakers have added some veteran and interesting role players: Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, and Howard. Ellington’s shooting is a big plus, but nothing changes the bottom line with this team (not even the Westbrook trade): If LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy and playing at an All-NBA/top-five best players in the world level, the Lakers are title contenders. If not, they are not close.