Pau Gasol

Trail Blazers reflect on Gasol's time as a player, look to what he can do as a coach

Trail Blazers reflect on Gasol's time as a player, look to what he can do as a coach

MILWAUKEE – As the Blazers prepare for the Bucks, the team offered up their thoughts on the decision of Pau Gasol to no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer.

The Blazers waived Gasol on Wednesday so the 39-year-old can focus solely on his rehabilitation. He has been rehabbing his left foot since having surgery to repair a stress fracture last May.

“Nobody wanted to come back more than he did,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said after Thursday morning’s shootaround.

“He loves the game, and he wanted to be a part of that. That being said, we were counting on him being a part of the team this year and what a healthy Pau Gasol brings to a team was something we were looking forward to having, so in that context it was very disappointing,” Stotts said.  

The Trail Blazers current plan with Gasol will be to add him to the coaching staff. Coach Stotts hasn’t sat down and talked with Gasol yet, but said, “the hope is that [Pau] will be involved... Doing everything that a coach does except for maybe game plans… He’ll travel, sit behind the bench, so the hope is that as he is rehabbing… this will be a good year for him to stay involved with the game, as well.”

[RELATED]: Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started 

Damian Lillard spoke with Gasol on Wednesday night after the announcement was made. The two talked about how unfortunate it was that Gasol wasn’t able to get on the court.

Gasol told Lillard that it’s disappointing his rehab hasn’t allowed him to move along like he thought and like he had hoped.

“Pau’s a great dude. He’s very present for somebody that wasn’t healthy so far this season. And I think his experience and what he knows as had an impact on our bigs… It’s unfortunate. We both acknowledged that I’m happy that he’s probably going to be around our team still because I think he can help us,” Lillard said.

[RELATED]: Social media reacts to Pau Gasol: Best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau! 

CJ McCollum discussed what it has meant to have Gasol around the team already this season:

“[He's] a veteran leader who knows what it takes to win, what it takes to get a team together, and build that camaraderie and just a good guy to have. He’s always happy, he’s always go-lucky, and he tells a lot of great stories and gave us a lot of great advice.”

Gasol has not been on the Blazers’ current six-game road trip. 

The Trail Blazers return home next Tuesday after wrapping up the trip in Chicago on Monday night. Maybe then we will see Gasol in a new role with the team.

Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started

Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started

One thing I will always remember about Pau Gasol is that his first name rhymes with Pow!

As in, a punch in the gut. The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it started. And this was news this team just didn’t really need to hear at this time.

But the Trail Blazers were astute enough to have a prior-injury clause in his contract that allowed them to waive him without regard to future salary obligations if he missed 15 games, which came Tuesday night. With Portland’s salary cap situation, that could prove to be a big savings.

But it’s a disappointment. I don’t think there are many big men as fun to watch as he was. He could shoot threes, score at the low block, pass, even defend. A smart, complete player, headed to the Hall of Fame.

Pow!

And boy, did this team need him. Not only his talent -- no matter how much it was going to be affected by injury or age – his experience and his wisdom. Even for just a few minutes a game.

Now, there’s not quite as much to look forward to this season. Jusuf Nurkic will be back at some point, we think. We hope. Perhaps some of those expiring contracts will be moved. The current roster should get healthier.

But there will be no Pau Gasol. He just couldn’t make it back.

Pow!

Social media reacts to Pau Gasol: Best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau!

Social media reacts to Pau Gasol: Best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau!

To one of the most beloved NBA players of all time, best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau Gasol.

After undergoing foot surgery last May, Gasol was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers with both parties not knowing exactly what his timetable for return might be.

Unfortunately, Gasol did not suit up for a single game with the Blazers this season. Now, he will focus all his time and energy on his rehabilitation.

There is a strong possibility that Gasol remains with the Portland Trail Blazers organization in a more coaching role, but said role has not be defined. 

“I am very grateful and flattered by their desire to find ways to continue to work together and I look forward to a good year with this great organization,” said Gasol on his latest Instagram post.

Here’s how the sports world reacted to the news:

 

 

Pau Gasol announces he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer

Pau Gasol announces he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer

Pau Gasol announced on his Instagram that he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer. The Blazers are waiving Gasol so the 39-year-old can now focus solely on his rehabilitation.

He has been rehabbing his left foot since having surgery to repair a stress fracture last May.

But according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski there’s a chance Gasol will not be leaving the Blazers organization.

Portland and the 2-time NBA champion are working on possible details for a coaching position with the Blazers.

Gasol was headed into his 19th season as an NBA player. He’s been in six All-Star games and won two championships. There is no question, he’ll be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

The question being asked today – and it’s a legitimate one – is “What the heck is going on with the Portland Trail Blazers?” And then… “Are they as bad as they look?”

I will attempt to answer the first question while answering with an affirmative “No” to the second question.

First, let’s remind you of the obvious: three of Portland’s top four best bigs are injured. The injury to Zach Collins was a critical blow because Pau Gasol and Jusuf Nurkic were – and still are – on the injured list. The Blazers do not have the inside game, at either end of the court, that they expected to have at some point this season.

Let's be real, Skal Labissiere and Nassir Litttle, critical rotation players right now, were not expected to have those roles at the start of the season.

Plus, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Hassan Whiteside and Rodney Hood have all been playing in spite of nagging injuries. After many games the Portland locker room features enough ice to fill one of those ice-bag coolers at your neighborhood convenience store.

But the other mitigating factor has been the schedule, which has been brutal. After 15 games, the Trail Blazers have played twice as many road games as home games and no other team in the league has had 10 road games already. Only two other teams have played five more road games than home games. And Portland has already played two back-to-backs.

And it isn’t over yet. Most people already know that 13 of the team’s first 18 games are on the road.

But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t as bad as it looks.

Even with all the injuries and the worst schedule in the league, the Trail Blazers sit just three games out of the playoffs. And ahead of them, in the seventh and eighth spots in the Western Conference, are Phoenix and Minnesota – which I would categorize as “catchable.”

Are there things that need to be fixed? Of course. For one thing, people who have shot the ball well through their careers need to do that again. I believe there must be a little more discipline and ball movement on offense and better attention to halfcourt and transition defense. But those things have a way of working out with time – especially when the team gets some home games and more chances to practice.

It’s going to get better. And I think it’s reasonable to expect that.

Pau Gasol continues to rehab and is inching closer to a return

Pau Gasol continues to rehab and is inching closer to a return

SAN FRANCISCO – Pau Gasol isn’t ready to play yet. And even though Portland’s crew of big men is hobbled by injury right now, he’s not going to be rushing onto the court until his surgically repaired left foot is 100 percent healed.
But there is progress.
Gasol said after the team’s shootaround Monday morning that he’s now practicing with some degree of contact and increasing his workouts.
He still refuses to put a timetable on his return but the former all-star seemed to feel good about his recovery.
Enjoy the full interview above.

Blazer fans will have more trouble recovering from Saturday loss than the players

Blazer fans will have more trouble recovering from Saturday loss than the players

Some losses hurt a lot but for the Trail Blazers, Saturday night’s one-point defeat was downright cruel.

But it’s over and I might add that losing games in that manner are usually a lot tougher for fans to get over than they are for the players.

NBA players know all about the 82-game slog through a season. They are going to steal some wins and have some stolen from them. Forget whatever just happened and move on.

I think Terry Stotts may have done something very smart Sunday – he canceled practice before the team’s charter leaves for the Bay Area Sunday night. Better to have players get out in the sun, enjoy the day with family and/or friends and stay away from the gym for a day, They played hard Saturday night and can use the rest.

The injuries are the thing, right now. It’s impossible to assess how good this team is going to be without the presence of Pau Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic. If you haven’t heard, size matters in basketball.

The Trail Blazers did a great job of holding off Philadelphia Saturday but eventually, they got pounded in the paint. It was inevitable, even though Joel Embiid wasn’t playing.

The smaller Portland players were blocking their man off the boards and the game was still being played over their heads.

How soon some of the hobbled players return to active duty is the key to what we can expect from the Trail Blazers moving forward. Portland made 19 of its 34 three-point field goals against the Sixers and it wasn’t enough to get a win, largely because the Blazers were outscored 84-40 in the paint.

That isn’t going to happen with either Whiteside or Nurkic in the middle and Gasol coming off the bench behind them.

But until that time, patience will be required.

How being on the road so often early can help Trail Blazers build team chemistry even quicker

How being on the road so often early can help Trail Blazers build team chemistry even quicker

Playing on the road is no easy task for any NBA team, let alone a team that is still trying to find its groove after a summer of roster turnover.

Thus, with seven new additions to the roster and plenty of time on the road to start the season, the Trail Blazers are in a state of: Buckle up and bond.

Of the first 18 games to the start the season, 13 of those will be away from Moda Center.

Yes, the road has its challenges. There’s no doubt about that, but it also has its perks as far building better relationships goes.  

Blazer center Hassan Whiteside admitted after Wednesday’s home opening loss against the Nuggets that he is still trying to find his footing after dealing with a sprained left ankle during the preseason. He does, however, believe it’s better to start on the road now than later in the year.

“I like that we are on the road at the beginning, kind of let’s [get] locked in a little more,” Whiteside said this week at practice. “As the season wears on, you’re in Game 40, Game 50, you might want to be home a little more. I think the schedule really works for us.”

[RELATED]: Hassan Whiteside showed why the Trail Blazers are excited about him

Blazers veteran Pau Gasol, who has been rehabbing his left foot and doesn’t have a timeline yet on his return, believes playing in so many road games to start the season can set the tone for the entire year.

“The road tests you in a different way,” Gasol said. “You’ve got to come together in order to get wins.”

“I think that’s going to be a good opportunity for us to really click and be on the same page, and dig in, and fight through, and see what we’re made of,” Gasol added.

Gasol continued to hammer home that point on how the road can change a team, and he would know, having played in 1,226 career games.

The 39-year-old is also all about playing road games early in the season.

“I think it’s better to do that early on… It forces you to grow and kind of step up. If you don’t, then you get run over and then the losses come, and then you scramble and try to get back on track. But again, it’s all part of the learning curve of any team,” Gasol said.

There will certainly be a learning curve for third-year player Zach Collins as he gets set for his new starting role with the Blazers this season.  He knows one thing is definite when it comes to starting life on the road this season:

“I’m sure that there’s gonna be a lot more team dinners this year.”

[RELATED]: What are the realistic expectations for the Blazers in the new wild, wild West?

Being with each other on the airplane, going to dinner, or just hanging out at the team hotel are just a few ways the Blazers will continue to build their relationships.

Facing adversity to start the season will most likely be the number one factor in forcing the Blazers to come together quickly.  

“It’s going to be one of those things where adversity could possibly hit early,” Damian Lillard said after pausing for a moment to really think about what it will take for his team to come together on the road.

“When you’re starting off on the road so much, and you’ve got teams that are excited early in the season, trying to come out, start their season right on their home floor, I’m sure they’ll be up to playing against us. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Collins agrees with his team captain.

“We’re gonna have to get used to a lot of adversity with each other,” Collins mentioned.

Portland’s first road trip of the season is four-game trip with stops in Sacramento, Dallas, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.

“I think it could be a situation where our team is tested to start the season and it’s going to be [about] how much we come together, what our character is as a group,” Lillard said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts believes there are a few positives to being on the road to start the season, yet he’d still rather have a more favorable home schedule at the moment.

“The road is always challenging. A lot of times when you win games that helps chemistry… I think it’s still early in that process, but yeah, guys are with each other more. They’re able to go out to dinner more. Hopefully that does have some good effects. I’d still rather be at home though,” Stotts said with a smile.      

Let the road test begin.

The Blazers will tip-off vs. the Kings Friday at 7:00pm.

Pau Gasol won't be ready for Blazer opener, Hassan Whiteside says he'll play

Pau Gasol won't be ready for Blazer opener, Hassan Whiteside says he'll play

Players, coaches and fans are counting down the days before the Trail Blazers’ season opener Wednesday against the ever-present Denver Nuggets Wednesday night in Moda Center.

And there’s another countdown to think about, too. And that's how many Blazer centers are down for the count. We have known for months that Jusuf Nurkic would not be back with the team until sometime after the new year because of his broken leg.

Then Portland center Hassan Whiteside sprained his left ankle Thursday night in an exhibition game at Denver and was held out of contact at Saturday’s practice. He did go through shooting drills and Coach Terry Stotts said the team would be preparing for the opener as if Whiteside will be in the lineup, “But our preparation will be the same, with him or without him.”

Whiteside said Saturday he plans to play Wednesday.

That would be important because it appears veteran center Pau Gasol will not be available for the start of the regular season, as had been hoped.

There was originally thought there was a chance that the veteran center would be recovered from his surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot in time to play in the season-opener, but he said Saturday that likely would not happen.

“Better,” he said when asked about his condition. “It’s just the part of rehab when you ramp up the load, you’ve got to see how it reacts. And it takes some time to adjust to it. So, if you do too much, if you’re too excited, it’s kind of counter-productive. That’s a little bit what happened early on; It felt really good, very excited about it and now we’re taking it a little slower.”

So, it’s safe to say you won’t be ready opening night?

“That’s a very safe statement” Gasol said. “It’s a process. It’s going to take -- not a little longer than we thought -- it’s just not going to be as short or quick as we thought we could do it.

“I’m trying to make sure when I do get back, I’m there for good.”

Stotts said Gasol’s absence won’t be so critical since the team played without him throughout the exhibition season.

“It doesn’t affect us much because we haven’t had him,” said the Portland coach. “It would probably have been different had he played in the preseason and then not have him available. Basically, since he’s been out of commission, it really hasn’t affected us. The better question is when he comes back. Then things will have to change.”
The Trail Blazers and Nuggets met for seven games in the playoffs last season and then played each other twice in the preseason. Neither team would have wished for those head-to-head exhibition games this season, but the preseason schedule is made up many months prior to the regular-season schedule. And obviously that counting schedule is made without regard for the preseason slate.

For Denver, whose season ended with the playoff loss to Portland, this will be the 10th time in its last 12 games it has played the Trail Blazers.

 

At age 39, can Pau Gasol contribute to the Trail Blazers' front court?

At age 39, can Pau Gasol contribute to the Trail Blazers' front court?

Pau Gasol has been on the Portland Trail Blazers’ radar for some time, and now they finally have him. The only problem is that the Spanish veteran is 39 years old, and it's not clear what he's going to bring to Portland on the court.

Gasol had an injury-plagued season last year, but his advanced statistic show that he could still be useful in short bursts off the bench. His assist to usage percentage is still quite good, and he remains a high value over replacement player. With Hassan Whiteside filling in for Jusuf Nurkic, Gasol could allow Portland to run more of its high post passing plays from last season due to his ability to create assists from the 5 spot.

Gasol is a reasonable enough mid-range shooter, and remains a high-percentage guy at the rim. He's also got the ability to step out and hit some 3-pointers, which may not be exactly what Terry Stotts wants from him, but it could allow more passing lanes for his bench teammates.

On defense, Gasol is a reasonable block percentage player. He still shows the ability to get into lanes and slyly bat away attempts, which should be good enough as he goes against opposing backup players this year. I wouldn't expect him to be the kind of block machine that Hassan Whiteside will be, but Gasol plays smart and that's why he might also be able to stop the bleeding if Zach Collins or Whiteside get into foul trouble.

There's a lot of good to Gasol. There's also real injury concerns, and with them, questions about his role for Portland. Watch the full video breakdown above to see what Gasol brings to the table.