Thirteen years after being called up, Marc Gasol is going to don a Lakers uniform for the first time.
The 35-year-old Spanish center agreed to a two-year contract with the Lakers on Sunday evening, The Athletic first reported. It was a deal where the Lakers had to make room through trade, bringing center JaVale McGee to Cleveland with a future second round.
The ties between Gasol and the Lakers are rich with nostalgia: the Lakers wrote him 48th overall in 2007, but traded his draft rights to Memphis for his brother, Pau Gasol, who would win two championships in Los Angeles.
Marc Gasol has built a remarkable career of his own, as a three-time All-Star and champion with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Last season saw him decline with an average of 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in a season that was riddled. with injury. But a year after making a championship round with some veterans seeing a resurgence, the Lakers hope the same from Gasol, who is a smart defender, capable shooter and adept passer-by at best.
Gasol struggled in the bubble in the most recent postseason, but in Toronto’s 2019 postseason run, he averaged 9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 3 assists per game, while shooting 38 percent from a 3-point range . Gasol shot better than 36 percent of three in his last two seasons on more than three tries per game.
The Lakers have dramatically revamped their supporting cast this off-season, and stylistically, their front court has received its biggest overhaul. With no rim-running, shot-blocking centers McGee and Dwight Howard, the Lakers will bet on Gasol’s distance and passing, as well as Montrezl Harrell’s stubborn pick-and-roll and offensive rebound.
While the Lakers aren’t yet to officially agree to a max contract with Anthony Davis, he’s widely expected to return. Considering his expected salary for the contracts the Lakers have agreed or have on the books next year, they only have room left for minimum deals by veterans.
The machinations of the salary cap will also likely mean the Lakers will keep one of Alfonzo McKinnie or Jordan Bell, two minimum contracts sent back from Cleveland for McGee. Both were lightly used players last year, averaging less than 15 minutes per game.
McGee averaged 9.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in his two seasons in Los Angeles, starting 130 games. The Lakers struggled to find use for the 7-footer in the playoff run: It saw the floor for only 135 minutes and eventually took the starting line-up by Howard.
NBA training camps begin December 1.