Barcelona has made official this Tuesday the return of Pau Gasol. The center of Sant Boi returns to the club where he started when he was 16 years old and with which he became a top-level star in 2001. That year, after winning and being the protagonist of the Cup and the League, he left Barça to pursue a career that places him as a benchmark in Spanish basketball and in a prominent place in the history of the NBA. At the age of 40, Gasol returns to Barcelona convinced that he has fully recovered from the injury to his left foot that has kept him away from the courts since March 10, 2019. His challenge is to return to compete at the highest level and contribute his quality and his experience with a team that, after having won the Cup, now aspires to conquer the most important titles, the League, which has not reached since 2014, and the Euroleague, which it won for the last time in 2010. Competing with Barça will open up the door to his fifth participation in the Olympic Games, those of Tokyo, starting on July 23.
The signing has been viable thanks to the interest of both parties and because its financial cost is minimal. Barça will only have to pay the proportional part of the minimum salary stipulated by the agreement between the ACB and the Players Association (ABP), which is 68,337 euros. The Barcelona club is immersed in a serious economic crisis and, furthermore, in the middle of the electoral process. The elections will be held on March 7 and the candidates are Joan Laporta, Víctor Font and Toni Freixa. Precisely a tweet from Freixa on Saturday afternoon uncovered the imminence of the signing of Pau Gasol by Barça. The player, annoyed by the leaking of the agreement, sent a tweet that same day in which he wrote: “In line with the news that appeared, I want to communicate that I continue to focus on my recovery and I am not yet ready to get back on track. When I have something to announce, I will do it through the networks ”.
The Barça first team squad will now have 14 players and, of them, three natural centers, Davies, Pustovyi and Pau Gasol, although Saras Jasikevicius has also placed Oriola in the position of five this season. To them we must add Sergi Martínez, attached to Barça B, but who often plays with the first team.
Gasol underwent surgery on May 9, 2019 for a navicular stress fracture in his left foot. That injury had already weighed down on him throughout the 2018-2019 season in which he started with San Antonio and ended with Milwaukee and he only played 30 games, with an average of 12 minutes. After undergoing surgery for the second time and a long recovery process, highly conditioned by the pandemic, on November 24, 2020, he published images of his return to activity on a field for the first time. His former teammate in the Spanish team Raúl López helped him on his return to training. Gasol, NBA champion in 2009 and 2010, finalist in 2008, Rookie of the year in 2002, and six times All Star, leaves averages of 17 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 blocks after 18 seasons in the NBA, six and a half courses at Memphis, six and a half in the Lakers, two in the Chicago Bulls, two and a half in the San Antonio Spurs and half a year in Milwaukee. He also had a final contract with Portland, but did not get to play for the Oregon team.
Pau Gasol has repeatedly expressed his desire to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. “The sensations are good. My goal and enthusiasm is to be able to give me the opportunity to play my fifth Games ”, he indicated last summer. His previous participations resulted in two silver medals (2008 and 2012), one bronze (2016) and seventh place in Athens 2004. In December, in an interview with the newspaper Marca, he specified: “I want to play what is necessary this season to to be able to arrive in condition to the Games and to be able to enjoy a great last moment in basketball. I am optimistic and we are going to see how everything is going, how I am finding myself ”.
The Spanish coach, Sergio Scariolo, in an interview with EL PAÍS on November 27, expressed his point of view on the recovery process of the eldest Gasol. “He is in the last stretch of a physical recovery that he has already completed. Now you have to enter the competitive level. That can only be given by a team and a competition. That last stage will give him the tone of playing official matches, the intensity in the frequency of play ”. And he concluded: “That is what he needs and what he is called upon to do when, hopefully, as we all hope, he can join the national team in the summer.”