The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement to sign free agent center Marc Gasol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The 35-year-old Spaniard was said to be a top priority for the Toronto Raptors who also lost Serge Ibaka to the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend. However, much like with Ibaka, the Raptors had the option to offer the most money but decided instead to maintain their financial flexibility. The Lakers also freed up their books by salary dumping JaVale McGee to accommodate the addition of Gasol as they continue to stockpile in pursuit of their title defense.
Gasol was the final piece of the championship puzzle for the Raptors after arriving at the trade deadline in 2019. He was the glue that held the team together on both ends, with his three-point shooting creating space in the paint, his passing to unlock stiffer defenses, and his indispensable rim protection that came in handy against Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Gasol happily accepted his role as the fifth option despite being a perennial All-Star with the Memphis Grizzlies, but when it came time to party during the championship parade, Gasol was undoubtedly the star of the show.
Gasol also stretched himself to the limit by competing in the FIBA World Cup shortly after winning the title. He was nothing short of sensational and led Spain to the gold medal to cap off his championship summer. However, the consequence of that was an inconsistent season with the Raptors where he battled a lingering hamstring issue, while losing all appetite for scoring. Even simple plays seemed to elude Gasol at times, although he remained as dominant as ever on the defensive end.
Ultimately, with Gasol being in the twilight of his career, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his brother Pau Gasol and join the Lakers. Marc was actually drafted by the Lakers over a decade ago, but before he could put on the purple and gold, he was traded to Memphis for his brother. In that sense, Marc now gets to complete his NBA journey by going full circle, and he has a great shot at picking up a second title in the process.
After the Gasol signing was announced, the Raptors added free agent center Aron Baynes from the Phoenix Suns on a two-year, $14-million deal, while also re-signing Chris Boucher to a 2-year, $13-million contract. It’s a downgrade from Gasol and Serge Ibaka, but as temporarily placeholders, the Raptors should still get by and compete.
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