The Portland Trail Blazers roster is set.
Fourteen players are under contract, one below the league’s maximum.
At 39 years old, Pau Gasol is the newest member of the team.
Monday afternoon marked the first chance for reporters from all around the world to hear from Gasol since his signing in Portland was made official.
The introductory press conference took place on a conference call that included Gasol, Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey and Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts.
“This is the roster we’re going to start the regular season with… We think we did really well the offseason. We think we filled some holes. We looked at areas where we were vulnerable last year in the postseason. We were really successful, but there were things we clearly could have had more solutions to some of the challenges we faced in the Conference Finals [vs. the Golden State Warriors], and we think we’ve addressed those,” Olshey said.
Gasol had high praise of the Trail Blazers organization during his introductory press conferen
"The Portland Trail Blazers are a special franchise with incredible history," Gasol said. "I’m just happy and thankful for the opportunity."
[RELATED]: Pau Gasol: just about as close as you can get to perfect for this team at this time
But perhaps what was the most talked about topic on the thirty-minute call, which featured local Portland reporters and reporters from all over the world, was Gasol’s eagerness to play a big role as a mentor to the young Blazers squad.
“I'll do as much as I can, and as much as asked by the coaching staff, by Terry and the staff and try to contribute as much as on the floor and off the floor,” Gasol said. “Obviously at this point in my career I have a lot of experience and I can help the younger guys understand what it takes, how to get better, how to be a better player, what it takes to win.”
Gasol continued by saying, “We have great players, young players that can continue to grow and continue to perform at a higher level which also, I think, is exciting for me to be around them and to push them to be better everyday, every game.”
For Coach Stotts, he feels there is no question that Gasol will fit on and off the court, and that his leadership will be instrumental in Portland’s success this season.
“He’s a winning player. His game, I think really fits with what we want to do and how we want to play. His versatility as far as playing four and five, he can play with Hassan [Whiteside], he can play with Zach [Collins], he can play the five by himself,” Stotts said.
[RELATED]: Pau Gasol to Trail Blazers a great fit in the locker room, likely means more small ball
Olshey echoed those sentiments.
“Obviously, we all know he has an incredible IQ for the game, but he’s also been in the league for 19 years. He knows what he wants and where he can be successful,” Olshey said.
Coach Stotts is especially looking forward to having a mentor for the current big men on the roster:
“The bonus is that because he’s a winning player and he’s won where he has been, and what he can give not only basketball wise, but just what it takes to be a Hall of Fame type of player to Hassan and Zach in particular at that position, that’s a bonus for us.”
That added bonus of the Gasol singing is what Gasol himself is most looking forward to.
“I’m going to teach them the things that I’ve learned… I am excited about it because once you get to this stage of your career it becomes a very fulfilling aspect of the game, to share knowledge… and help the younger guys just like other veterans have helped me along in my younger years… I love mentoring, I look forward to it,” Gasol said.
Trail Blazers fans have been showing their excitement and love for the signing of Gasol all over social media.
On Monday, Gasol returned the favor.
“It's a city that loves basketball and all their fans are incredibly devoted and loyal to their team," Gasol said.
“What made me accept the offer from the Blazers is they’re a great team, one of the best in the league. They're trending up, they're very hungry, their culture is great,” Gasol added.
As the two-time NBA champion continues to work with his trainer in Madrid while rehabbing his left foot, which he had surgery on in April, he is eager to come back this season and get back on the floor.
"I think my expectations are to be completely cleared and free to compete during training camp. Those are my expectations," Gasol said. “I had a rough season last year with the injury. I decided to take the surgery when I did because it would give me a chance to be back and ready for training camp… If I'm cleared to play, I'm the first one that cannot wait to play competitive basketball and get to it.”
It’s clear Gasol is not worrying about what’s next beyond this season. The six-time NBA All-Star is not getting ahead of himself.
“All my focus will be on the season, and the Portland Trail Blazers, and me giving my best every single day. That’s my approach. What’s going to come after the season I don’t know,” Gasol said.
Even at 39, Gasol admitted he was not ready to hang it up because of his “love for the game.”
Gasol still really has “a huge passion and fire” for what he does.
Get ready Rip City, that 19-years of fire and passion is heading to Portland.