NBA Twitter has been abuzz with speculation that centre Marc Gasol will be going home to Spain and signing with FCB Barcelona next season, according to a report by Spanish journalist Sergi Carmona. If the rumour is true, it would mark the end of his tenure as a Toronto Raptor, as well as his illustrious NBA career.
This report, however, has been contradicted by Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who apparently told a journalist that the club has not spoken with Gasol, according to Sportnado's Emiliano Carchia. “We have not talked to Marc Gasol," he's quoted as saying. "The important thing now is not to rush. If we have a real chance, we will go for it.”
The Big Spaniard spent his last two seasons as the Raptors' starting centre, and was a key cog in Toronto's 2019 championship run. He averaged 8.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 70 games. In 2019 he also became the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year.
This past season, the 35-year-old suffered setbacks due to injuries, playing in just 44 games, averaging 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds. He did, however, lose a bunch of weight during quarantine, resulting in quite the glow up.
Among the big questions for the Raptors this off-season was whether they'd want to re-sign Gasol, who was set to become a free agent. On the verge of turning 36 and with his offense chops not what they used to be, as evidenced in his struggles this postseason against the Boston Celtics, it seemed not the wisest move for a front office looking to make a big splash in the free agency market.
Following the Raptors' Game 7 loss against the Celtics, Gasol told reporters he wanted to return home to Spain and see his family before considering contract discussions with the team.
"After everything, every ounce of energy is put into this game and given the circumstances that we've been on for the past few months, all you think about right now is trying to get to your family," he said. "Whenever that process starts, as far as thinking goes, we'll start making those decisions when the time comes. But right now, honestly, every ounce of energy I had and mind, was into just the next day."
Gasol, who was born in Barcelona, began playing pro basketball in 2003 for FC Barcelona before leaving for CB Girona in 2006. In the 2007 NBA draft, he was selected 48th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, who would eventually trade his rights to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a package that included his older brother, Pau. He'd spend 11 seasons with the Grizzles—becoming a two-time All-NBA Team member, three-time NBA All-Star, and one-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year— before being traded to the Raptors in 2019 as part of a blockbuster deal.
Despite no official confirmation that Gasol is leaving the NBA, Raptors Twitter was already flooded with tributes to the centre on Wednesday afternoon.
If the reports are true, Raptors fans should chug a bottle of Rosé in honour of Marc Gasol.— Kris Pangilinan (@KrisReports) September 30, 2020
There’s no NBA championship in Toronto without Marc Gasol. Period.— Chris Walder (@WalderSports) September 30, 2020
His interior defense. His sheer presence in the paint. His passing around the basket and ability to stretch the floor when necessary.
Forever a Raptor. Forever a champion.
Working to confirm report Marc Gasol will end his career by playing in Barcelona, which makes sense given his young family. More than anything, I'll miss watching him play. Aside from Kyle Lowry, no one has taught me more about basketball with his play than Gasol.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) September 30, 2020
Reports swirling that Marc Gasol is going home...he'll play in Spain next season.— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) September 30, 2020
What a run he had in the @nba w/ his incredible years w/ the @memgrizz & the experience/savvy/skill/professionalism he brought to the @Raptors - especially in their 2019 championship run - as well. pic.twitter.com/xm6uuW7LXs
it's always going to hurt to lose any piece of that 2019 championship team. all of them are raptors legends forever. thank you for everything, marc. his defense was the final piece of the puzzle, just ask giannis or embiid.— William Lou (@william_lou) September 30, 2020
With Marc Gasol set to end his tenure on the @Raptors, a reminder that the year before winning the Championship, he once got on a boat in the Mediterranean to help rescue drowning migrants at sea.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) September 30, 2020
Then he flew one of the rescuers to watch Game 1 of the Finals in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/6k7VLYUqUc
May Marc Gasol's championship parade energy live on in Canada's heart forevermore.
Marc Gasol going Sicko Mode at the parade will never be forgotten 😂pic.twitter.com/xV1sI3N5OJ— Baver❄️ (@ChefIbaka) September 30, 2020
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