- Former NBA star Pau Gasol has signed a deal to play for Barcelona in Spain.
- Gasol is a six-time NBA All-Star who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Barca is the -163 odds on favorite to win the 2021 Spanish ACB title.
Six-time NBA All-Star Paul Gasol is going back to where it all began. Saddled by injuries this past two years, the now 40-year old Spanish center announced that he has signed a deal to play for Barcelona in the Spanish ACB. Gasol himself made the announcement via Twitter:
Very happy to come back home.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Força Barça! 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/6CewIY2Bil
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 23, 2021
Reports of Gasol returning home to play for Barcelona started way back in July of last year. But those rumors were quickly diffused as Gasol was still working his way to recovery from two foot surgeries that abruptly ended his NBA career. Last December, Gasol talked about his desire to give the NBA one last try but apparently, that did not work out.
Over the weekend, news of Gasol rejoining his Spanish team resurfaced. However, he denied it via Twitter, saying that he was focused on his recovery and was not ready to get back to competing just yet. However, this time around, it appeared that he already had an agreement to join the team and that he merely wanted to announce the deal on his terms.
Two-time NBA Champion
OTD IN 2001: Pau Gasol made his NBA Debut for the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol was named an All-Star 6x in his career. Gasol was named Rookie of the Year in 2002 and a part of the Lakers teams that won championships in 2009 and 2010. pic.twitter.com/MzyYhnFjE9
— NBA Stats (@DailyNBAStats) November 2, 2020
Pau Gasol last played in the NBA since March 2019. He played in just a total of 30 games during the 2018-19 season, splitting his time with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks. Gasol underwent two surgeries to repair stress fractures in the navicular bone in his left foot. He had thought about retirement during his long recovery period but ultimately decided he wants to play on, in the NBA if possible.
Gasol called the Los Angeles Lakers his dream destination with his brother Marc playing there. But the Los Angeles dream remained just that- a dream. Still Gasol continued to work out and regain his fitness as he was also rumored to be attempting to play in the Tokyo Olympics. Now he will go back to the team where his decorated career began.
Gasol played three Liga ACB seasons with Barcelona and played for the team during the inaugural Euroleague season in 2001. He joined the NBA in 2002, winning Rookie of the Year honors with the Grizzlies. He was traded to the Lakers in 2008 where he helped Kobe Bryant win NBA title in 2009 and 2010.
Not Likely Playing Big Minutes
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 23, 2021
While a Barcelona homecoming is nostalgic for Pau Gasol, he is not likely playing big minutes for the Spanish club anytime soon. Within his statement, Gasol mentioned lending his skills and experience to the team while making progress in his physical condition and getting into the rhythm of competition.
Barcelona topped the Spanish ACB league table during the 2020 season with a 19-4 record. They made it all the way to the final where they were defeated by Kirolbet Basconia 69-67. Despite that, online sportsbook Bet365 currently lists Barca as the -223 odds on favorite to win the 2021 Spanish League title.
Barca will return a loaded lineup led by Nikola Mirotic, Brandon Davies, Nick Calathes, Alex Abrines, and Cory Higgins so they are not a team lacking in talent. Adding Pau Gasol not only gives them another serviceable big man, but a leader who has led the club to success in the past.