Pau Gasol

Former Trail Blazer Pau Gasol to return to basketball in Spain 

Former Trail Blazer Pau Gasol to return to basketball in Spain 

After the Trail Blazers waived Pau Gasol back in November when he was unable to successfully recover from left foot surgery, Gasol will return to the court in Barcelona.

Per RealGM, Gasol is expected to resume his basketball career in his hometown and sign a one-year deal with FC Barcelona.

Gasol, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Monday with the Bryant family, did not play for Portland after inking a one-year deal with the Blazers last July. In a video on Instagram, the 18-year-veteran explained that rehab from his foot surgery had taken longer than expected, and that he expected to stay with the Trail Blazers franchise in some capacity. 

I have the same excitement and passion for the game of basketball that I had when I first started playing, and I will work as hard as I can on my recovery with a clear goal in mind: To get healthy in order to continue to play the game that I love. -- Pau Gasol

[Listen to the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers TV analyst Lamar Hurd].

While many believed Gasol would retire, Portland coach Terry Stotts told reporters that the former All-Star big man would rejoin the team last November as an assistant coach.

During a visit to Rip City in December, it was revealed that Gasol needed more work on his foot and would be returning to Spain, as reported by NBCSNW’s Mike Richman. His goal was to rehab to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Now that the Olympics have been moved to 2021, Gasol has decided his professional basketball career isn’t over just yet. 

Gasol, a two-time NBA champion and six-time All-Star, has played 18 seasons since being drafted third-overall by Memphis in 2001. He is one of just four players with over 20,000 points, 11,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks in his career, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

He also boasts three EuroBasket gold medals and a 2006 FIBA World Championship MVP trophy. 

Pau Gasol spends heartfelt birthday with the Bryant family

Pau Gasol spends heartfelt birthday with the Bryant family

On his 40th birthday, Pau Gasol celebrated in the most fitting and heartwarming way possible: with Kobe Bryant’s family.

The Gasol-Bryant duo tore up the league with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2008-2014 which included back-to-back NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Gasol also was a three-time All-Star with the Lakers from 2008-2010.

During their reign of terror, the two developed quite the friendship off the court.

Once you slowly get over the void and the sadness and the pain you start looking at what he has left us. He was a guy who gave his best to whatever he did. He didn’t accept failure. He worked the hardest to be the best at what he did. You can see how now – after basketball, after his career – he was sharing all those values, all that knowledge to inspire the younger generations. To share the messages of ‘be the best that you can be’. ‘Dedicate yourself to your craft’. If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. — Gasol said about Bryant’s legacy in a video by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association).

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].

Here are some photos taken from Vanessa Bryant’s Instagram on Monday, July 6:

The Portland Trail Blazers signed the future Hall of Fame center to a one-year contract back on July 24, 2019. For his career, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft holds averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds. At the time of the signing, the Blazers were looking to fill the depth behind Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a gruesome foot injury in March 2019.

Unfortunately, Gasol was also recovering and rehabbing an injury that kept him on the sidelines and never took the court in a Trail Blazers uniform.

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

While the 40-year-old hasn’t officially retired, Gasol hasn’t ruled out a return to the Lakers or playing for Spain in the future.

Not all great moves turn out great: Pau Gasol would have made a difference

Not all great moves turn out great: Pau Gasol would have made a difference

As the Trail Blazers scratch and claw their way through a season that they are just not physically prepared to handle at this point, I was thinking back to last summer’s roster additions and how one of them that didn’t turn out well is almost forgotten.

But oh my, what a difference a healthy Pau Gasol would have made for this team.

Look, I realize the Blazers weren’t going to get the vintage, Hall of Fame Gasol. Still, what they would have gotten from a savvy veteran player who could pass, shoot threes, score around the basket and grab the odd rebound would have been an enormous boost.

And it would have been fun.

Gasol was a creative player who would have facilitated offense for his teammates and even if it was just for 15-20 minutes a game, it would have set a tone that seems to be missing right now.

Without Jusuf Nurkic, Portland is missing a versatile big who could make plays when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are facing double teams.

And this is no knock on Hassan Whiteside, who has been indispensable with his rebounding, shotblocking and even his scoring. But Gasol could have taken vital minutes in relief of Whiteside or played alongside him at power forward late in games.

Alas, Gasol never made it to the court, because of a foot surgery that just wouldn't heal. But I remember thinking when he was signed by Portland last summer what a great move it was. His presence, just hanging out with the team during training camp and early in the season, was important.

But that's just the way this season has gone. Injuries have forced key players to the sidelines and thrust others into roles they're not accustomed to filling.

Not all great roster moves turn out great. But don’t forget Pau…. But for injury, his addition could have been a difference maker.

Trail Blazers began season with six centers -- and now it's down to one

Trail Blazers began season with six centers -- and now it's down to one

And then there was one. Just one -- for right now, at least.

One Trail Blazer center left. And the team started training camp with five of them. Six, actually, if you want to count G-League rookie Moses Brown.

Saturday night, just 2:37 into what turned into a 128-120 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Skal Labissiere suffered an injury to his left knee and departed the game. Ironically, Labissiere was starting at power forward alongside Hassan Whiteside, as Coach Terry Stotts attempted to get more size in the game to counter the Lakers’ starting duo of Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee.

Results of Labissiere’s MRI are “pending,” according to Stotts.

Portland began the season with Zach Collins, who has served as a backup center previously, as the starting power forward but he was lost due to dislocated left shoulder. Veteran Hall of Fame center Pau Gasol began the season on the injured list and later retired. And Jusuf Nurkic, the expected starter when he returns from the broken leg he suffered last season.

Leaving Whiteside. Period. Depending on Labissiere’s status, Brown could be recalled from the G-League to fill a backup role.

But playing basketball without size in the frontcourt is a very difficult task, particularly against teams with plenty of size, such as the Lakers.

Portland stayed in the game until late in the third quarter, when Los Angeles got serious about going to Davis on lob passes or getting the ball deep to Dwight Howard. The Lakers finished with a 60-40 edge in points in the paint and that was the difference in the game.

“I mean, it’s tough any time you lose a teammate to an injury,” said Damian Lillard, who had 31 points and nine assists. “Just because you don’t know how serious it could be or how much time he’ll miss. It’s a guy who’s been in our rotation all season. It hurts even more, especially with us already dealing with so many injuries.

“I don’t care who’s on the floor or what we’re dealing with as far as injuries or what we’re up against – I mean, we’re all professionals. People pay a lot of money to come see us play and we get paid a lot of money to show up and do our jobs and perform. So, I think it’s obvious what we’re up against. We’ve got three of our starters out with tough injuries and we’re playing with guys who it’s their first year getting a lot of minutes… Everybody knows that, but it does us no good to use it as a crutch or make an excuse…”

Anthony Tolliver, a forward who got backup minutes at center, responded with his best shooting night of the season, hitting four of his five three-point shots. And Anfernee Simons had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench. Whiteside had 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

But in the end, everything came down to the little things:

Portland is now too little. There aren’t enough big men. Which makes interior defense difficult. And at this point of the season, very little can be done about it.

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do:

Nothing.

And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

This team has been ripped apart by injuries. Last season’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are now last in the league in that department. From first to worst in a few months. And why not? This team opened the season with thoughts of eventually having five seven-footers on its roster.

There was Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol. But Gasol never made it to the active roster and retired. Collins was sidelined with shoulder surgery and Nurkic still hasn’t made it back from his broken leg. Labissiere, who wasn’t even expected to play much this season, has become the backup center.

And the Trail Blazers have taken a big step back on the boards and in physicality. Offensive rebounding is critical to this team, because it’s often the only avenue for easy baskets. Portland doesn’t get a lot of fast-break baskets and now, without its big men, isn’t getting to the foul line enough,

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are having to carry a big load.

When Collins went down, Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, went out and got Carmelo Anthony – a nice addition. Anthony was a player with a presence and the team didn’t have to give up anything to get him.

The Trail Blazers had championship aspirations this season, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious those dreams won’t be realized this season without the big men.

This franchise would be stupid to sacrifice any of its future to obtain a role player just to attempt to improve its position this season.

With Nurkic, Collins and Hood back in the fold next season, the Trail Blazers would be smart to keep their vision long range – next season should be a nice reset.

In the meantime, there is still a chance that a major trade could be made that would make sense for the future.

Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract has always been expected to be a trade piece at some point. Names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been mentioned and they would be difference-makers. But much more so next year than this, in all likelihood.

In regard to deals, it’s important to remember that NBA free agents cannot be traded for three months after they signed, or until after Dec. 15, whichever is later. And this season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 and there is often a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline as teams come to the realization that they probably won’t make the playoffs.

But Portland is not in a great space to make a deal with the Whiteside contract. The free-agent crop this summer is a weak one, with many of the top players expected to re-sign with their old teams. That would mean some teams would be reluctant to deal for a player who would provide cap space when there is not much to spend it on.

And there is a perception, too, that the Trail Blazers are desperate and other teams would want to squeeze more out of Portland in any deals.

So this is another situation when patience will be required. If the team doesn’t play any better than it did Sunday night against the Thunder, what would be the use of adding some marginal free agent who is sitting at home on his couch right now?

I would expect Nurkic to be back at some point this season, at least on a limited basis. Collins, I would assume, is more doubtful.

Better to allow the team’s younger players to grab that playing time, getting them ready for a bench role next season.

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:

https://twitter.com/MuzzyLarry/status/1197278382377058306

 

 

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.