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Pau Gasol: ‘Playing my last year with the Lakers would be great’

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 13: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up prior to facing the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on November 13, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 111-99. 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 License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Pau Gasol planned to come off the bench in Portland this season, but he could never recover from foot surgery and the team ended up waiving him.

Gasol has contemplated retirement, but he wants to play for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics. With those games pushed back into the summer of 2021, Gasol would like to play one more NBA season, his 20th.

How about returning to the Lakers? He’s open to it, Gasol told Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints.

“It’s something that has been on my mind. Kind of like the potential of maybe finishing or playing my last year with the Lakers would be great. It’s appealing if you will, but the opportunity never really kind of presented itself in a serious official manner.

“I have a great relationship and love for Jeanie [Buss] and the Lakers organization and the city of Los Angeles, which is always going to remain extremely meaningful to me no matter what, but we’ll see.”

This seems unlikely but never say never in the NBA. Gasol is beloved in Los Angeles, where he won two titles playing next to Kobe Bryant.

Gasol signing anywhere for next season would have to start with him proving healthy enough to play and contribute — he only played 30 games in 2018-19, zero this season, and he will turn 40 before next season. It feels like Gasol’s Hall of Fame career may have come to an end, he would need to convince a team he still has gas in the tank.

The Lakers’ center spot is more fluid. Dwight Howard will be a free agent after this season and has played well enough — and fit in well enough — that he might get offers for more than the minimum he made this season. Then there is JaVale McGee, who has a $4.2 million early termination option (basically a player option), but he likely sticks with the Lakers for another season. With the decreased salary cap next season, and considering the NBA is already shifting toward treating the center spot as a position to save money (except for the handful of truly elite bigs), the Lakers should not need to spend money to have options at center next to Anthony Davis (who will play some key minutes at the five, just not steady minutes, he wants to be at the four).

It would take a lot for Gasol to fill that role. That said, one of the smartest and best guys in the league, Gasol will fit in any locker room. Including the Lakers.