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Pau Gasol says he plans to opt into final season of Spurs contract

Mexico NBA Basketball

San Antonio Spurs Pau Gasol has a picture taken with a young fan prior a regualr-season NBA basketball game against Phoenix, at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)


For years, Pau Gasol considered signing with the Spurs.

Now that he’s in San Antonio – on a contract that contains a $16,197,500 player option for next season – he’s in no rush to leave.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Asked if he intended to opt-in Year 2 of his contract, Gasol agreed it’s a safe bet.

“My intention is to continue here, and to be here as long as I can,” said Gasol, who will turn 37 before the start of the 2017-18 season.

“It was a great decision,” Gasol told the Express-News. “I came here to have a chance to win a title and we’re second in the league right now, second best record, so that puts you in a position to win a title. That was a priority, and it still is.”

With his shooting touch, passing acumen and basketball intelligence, Gasol slid seamlessly into the Spurs’ offensive system. They also adequately cover for his defensive deficiencies.

But that could be a different story in the playoffs, when Gasol’s lack of defensive mobility is more likely to be exposed.

Gasol is the NBA’s best 36-year-old. He’s also 36. At that age, production can fall off at any moment.

San Antonio accepted the risk in giving him this contract, but just because he has lived up to it so far doesn’t mean he’ll provide value next season. There’s always risk in paying someone so old so much, even if Gasol’s finger injury has no lasting effects.

Gasol opting in, barring another move, would effectively eliminate the Spurs’ cap room. They’d be left with just the mid-level exception, give or take, to spend. Of course, if they want to pursue major free agents, the Spurs can always try convincing Gasol to opt out and re-sign for less.