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.”
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.
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.