Thirteen years after he was drafted, Marc Gasol is going to put on 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, as first reported by The Athletic. It was a deal that required the Lakers to make space via trade, dealing center JaVale McGee to Cleveland with a future second-round pick.
The ties between Gasol and the Lakers are rich with nostalgia: The Lakers drafted him 48th overall in 2007, but traded his draft rights to Memphis for his brother, Pau Gasol, who would go on to win two championships in Los Angeles.
Marc Gasol has carved out a notable career of his own, as a three-time All-Star and a champion with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Last season saw him in decline, averaging 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in a season riddled with injury. But a year after making a championship run with a number of veterans who saw a resurgence, the Lakers are hoping for the same from Gasol, who at his best is a savvy defender, capable shooter and adept passer.
Gasol struggled in the bubble in the most recent postseason, but in Toronto’s postseason 2019 run, he averaged 9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 3 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. Gasol has shot better than 36 percent from three in his last two seasons at more than three attempts per game.
The Lakers have revamped their supporting cast dramatically this offseason, and stylistically their front court has gotten the biggest overhaul. Without rim-running, shot-blocking centers McGee and Dwight Howard, the Lakers will bet on the spacing and passing of Gasol, as well as the tenacious pick-and-roll and offensive rebounding of Montrezl Harrell.
While the Lakers have yet to officially agree to a max contract with Anthony Davis, he’s widely expected to return. Factoring in his expected salary to the contracts the Lakers have agreed to or have on the books next year, they only have space remaining for veteran minimum deals.
Salary cap machinations will also likely mean the Lakers keep one of Alfonzo McKinnie or Jordan Bell, two minimum contract forwards sent back from Cleveland for McGee. Both were lightly used players last year, averaging under 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: He only saw the floor for 135 total minutes, eventually usurped in the starting lineup by Howard.
NBA training camps are set to begin on Dec. 1.