Marc Gasol will be going home to Spain and signing with FCB Barcelona next season, according to a report by Spanish journalist Sergi Carmona that's set NBA Twitter abuzz. If the rumour is true, it would mark the end of the legendary centre's 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.
May Marc Gasol's championship parade energy live on in Canada's heart forevermore.