Less than a year after signing with the Lakers in free agency, Marc Gasol is already on his way out of Los Angeles.
The Lakers are trading Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash to the Grizzlies in exchange for the draft rights to Wang Zhelin, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Gasol won’t be joining Memphis for the 2021-22 season, though, as Wojnarowski reports that the Grizzlies plan to work with the 36-year-old on his release, which will allow him to stay in Spain with his family.
This deal may seem surprising on the surface considering that the start of training camp is less than three weeks away, but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. There are three reasons why Marc Gasol is no longer a member of the Lakers:
1. Gasol’s role had dwindled by the end of the 2020-21 season. He averaged career-lows in points (5.0), rebounds (4.1) and minutes (19.1) per game, and he played even less in Los Angeles’ first-round series against Phoenix. The partnership sounded great on paper, but it just never fully clicked.
2. The Lakers’ frontcourt is crowded. Los Angeles signed Dwight Howard in free agency last month and recently added DeAndre Jordan, who reached a buyout agreement with the Pistons after the Nets sent him to Detroit. Anthony Davis will also be logging minutes at center, so Gasol would have struggled to find a place in Frank Vogel’s rotation.
3. Saving money matters, even for one of the most valuable teams in the world. By trading Gasol, the Lakers will shave off $10 million in salary and luxury tax, per Wojnarowski. They also created another roster spot.
As for Gasol, he could end up retiring, though it’s unclear if he is walking away from basketball or taking a break. If this is indeed the end of the road, it would bring his basketball journey full circle. Gasol was traded from the Lakers to the Grizzlies at the start his career, and a deal between those two teams could bring it to a close.