The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly trading big man Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies, in exchange for the draft rights to Wang Zhelin, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Once the trade is official, the Grizzlies plan to waive Gasol so that he can remain with his family in Spain, per Wojnarowski.
Gasol, 36, will indeed end his time in the NBA and return to native Spain with the intent to play for Girona, per Marc Stein. It concludes an illustrious career that was capped with an NBA title in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors in addition to being a three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA and Defensive Player of the Year, among other accolades.
The trade from the Lakers to the Grizzlies is a full-circle moment for Gasol, who was drafted by L.A. in 2007 only to be traded to the Grizzlies for his brother, Pau Gasol in 2008. Gasol then spent 11 straight seasons with the Grizzlies to start his career, where he was an integral piece of a Memphis team that went from a 20-wins-a-season franchise to a consistent playoff team, winning nearly 50 games a year on several occasions. Gasol was consistently the most important player on Memphis’ team and helped lead the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 at the height of the “Grit and Grind” era.
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Gasol’s time with the Grizzlies came to an end when he was traded in the middle of the 2018-19 campaign, and became crucial in Toronto winning its first championship. After two seasons north of the border, he signed with the Lakers as a free agent ahead of the 2020-21 season in hopes of trying to win another title, but his lone season in purple and gold wasn’t successful as the team was bounced from the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns, a series where Gasol played the fewest playoff minutes of his career (17.4 per game).
After the Lakers signed Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan during free agency this summer, it was obvious that Gasol’s time with L.A. was coming to an end. This move will also allow the Lakers to save $10 million. Gasol choosing to play overseas is a similar path as his brother, Pau, who played for FC Barcelona in Spain this past season, where the club won the Liga ACB championship in June. Whether Girona will be his final destination or not, Gasol will go down as one of the greatest international players in league history.