At every exit interview and prior to every trade deadline for the past few years, Pau Gasol has thought about his last day with the Los Angeles Lakers. Seemingly, every summer and fall, Gasol heard rumors that he was getting shipped out of Los Angeles.
“Like I say every year, I don’t know,” Gasol responded to the same question asked of him at every exit interview inquiring if he would be back with the Lakers after the summer. “This year is a little different because every time I said that, it’s been because I didn’t know if I was going to get traded.”
Gasol continued, “This year, that possibility is out of the question, so now it’s because I’ll be in charge of my future and my destiny, and I’ll have to listen to the different possibilities that I’ll have on the table.”
Despite hundreds of rumors and a trade that was eventually cancelled by the NBA league office, Gasol finished his contract in Los Angeles.
“This could be my last day, maybe,” the Spaniard admitted on Thursday.
He seemed thrilled to be in the driver’s seat and in charge of his own life. Gasol has always been considered one of the more cerebral personalities in the NBA since entering the league, and his outlook on the summer reflected that spirit.
“I look at this as an opportunity,” Gasol said. “Probably for the first and only--maybe--time, I’ll be a free agent where I can choose. It’s exciting and nothing I’ve experienced before in the NBA, so it should be fun.”
Despite the constant trade rumors and feeling of betrayal after having been traded, Gasol explained that returning to the Lakers was indeed still a possibility.
“I’ll have to evaluate each and every option and possibility that I’ll have on the table and try to kind of put my feelings aside a little and make a decision where I could fit the best and where I would have the best opportunity to, hopefully, go after a championship.”
He added, “I’m still going to listen closely to what the Lakers will have to offer.”
Gasol explained that his relationship and history with Kobe Bryant would under line his decision to return to the Lakers, should he decide to do so.
“I know that he’s going to be one of the main reasons why I would come back with the team,” the 33-year-old Barcelona native explained. “I think we complement each other well--personally and also professionally.”
With regards to his future beyond his free agency decision, the two-time champion did not sound like a man nearing retirement.
“I see myself playing several more years at a high level,” Gasol explained. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to play another good five years. That’s kind of my vision.”
After he had answered all his questions in English, Gasol took questions from the Spanish media. Following the media session, Gasol shook hands with every media member that approached him. He shared a smile, accepted kind words and offered thanks.
If Thursday was the last day Gasol was a Laker, he was a class act until the absolute end.