Six-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol’s recent comeback attempt with the Portland Trail Blazers may not have gone according to plan, but the 40-year-old is nonetheless reportedly targeting a return to the hardwood. According to Eurohoops‘ Nikos Varlas, Gasol is nearing a one-year deal with Barcelona of La Liga ACB in his native Spain, with whom he launched his professional career more than two decades ago.
Varlas is reporting that a contract between the parties should be finalized later this summer. Gasol’s basketball journey originally began with Barcelona’s junior program when he was just 16 years old, after which he spent three years with the senior club from 1998 to 2001 before making the jump to the NBA.
Per a tweet from Varlas, Gasol is approaching his run with Barca as a means to prepare himself for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, where he’ll officially wrap up his career with a final run as a member of the Spanish men’s senior national team. Gasol won three Olympic medals (two silver and a bronze) with Spain, as well as multiple golds at EuroBasket and the FIBA World Cup.
Gasol, who has been a fixture in the NBA since the 2001-02 campaign when he captured Rookie of the Year honors for the Memphis Grizzlies, was most recently a member of the Trail Blazers. However, the team waived him in November 2019 before he had ever made an appearance for them when it was deemed that he had not yet recovered from the foot injury that ended his brief stint with the Milwaukee Bucks the previous year.
As relayed by The Inquisitr in March, Gasol had indicated during an interview with the Spanish publication El Pais that he was strongly considering the possibility of retirement.
“With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it’s undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement,” Gasol said in a translated quote. “Also taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So it’s definitely in my mind.”
In 1,226 games played in the NBA between 2001 and 2019, Gasol averaged 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and 1.6 blocks per contest. In his later career, he developed a three-point shot in keeping with the evolution of the pro game — he connected on triples at a rate over 40 percent over parts of five seasons with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
His best years arguably came with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he teamed up with Kobe Bryant to win back-to-back NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.