One of the most interesting positions to watch for the Los Angeles Lakers this season will be at center. We’ve seen that Anthony Davis is willing to play more center with the addition of Russell Westbrook, but it remains to be seen if the team plans to play him there full-time. If not, the starting center job will be between Dwight Howard and Marc Gasol.
Howard was excellent for the Lakers off the bench during the championship run in 2020. It seems the team likes him in a depth role. Gasol started last season as the starting center but was moved to the bench after the Andre Drummond signing. With Drummond now in Philadelphia, Gasol should be the favorite to start. However, the Lakers may not even have him when the season starts. According to Marc Stein, the former All-Star could be done in Los Angeles.
“I’m hearing that Marc Gasol is not a lock to return to the Lakers, even after Gasol said following Spain’s quarterfinal loss to the United States in the Olympics that he intends to play out the final year of the two-year deal he signed with Los Angeles,” Stein wrote.
What isn’t clear from Stein’s report is if the Lakers are hoping to move on or if Gasol is mulling retirement. Both scenarios are very possible.
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Should the Lakers Want Gasol to Return?
Gasol was once of the NBA’s best big men. He’s a three-time All-Star and was named Defensive Player of the Year back in 2013. However, those days are long in the past. He was largely ineffective for the Lakers last season outside of some decent spurts late in the year.
Gasol averaged a career-low 5.0 points a game and 4.1 rebounds, but he did make 40.1% of his threes. Having a center who can hit shots from beyond the arc is a luxury. Considering the lack of good centers available on the market, the Lakers would be wise to try and keep Gasol. He’s not the defender or scorer he once was but his shooting and passing make him a valuable asset. The Lakers don’t have many shooters and shouldn’t give up one of their better ones.
Who Could Lakers Target if Gasol Retires?
At the end of the day, the Lakers may have no say regarding whether or not Gasol plays next season. He’s 36-years-old and well past his prime. It could be time to call it a career. If that were to happen, the Lakers could be in the market for another center.
Bismack Biyombo could be a name they take a look at. He’d bring some youth to the team at 28-years-old and can make an impact on defense. He doesn’t do much on offense but the Lakers already have plenty of offensive talent. Los Angeles could also take another flyer on DeMarcus Cousins. He never got a chance to play with the team despite being on the roster for much of the 2019-2020 season. It’s highly unlikely that he ever returns to All-Star form but could be a decent fit with the team coming off the bench.