Six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol is heading back home. He announced on Tuesday that he is signing with FC Barcelona. He will head back to the team that he originally started his career with and last played for in 2001.
"I'm very happy to announce that I'm coming home and that I'll soon join the ranks of Barca's basketball team," Gasol said in a Tuesday announcement. "I want to put my skills and my experience at the disposal of the club at a key point in the season, while at the same time making progress in my physical condition and getting into the rhythm of competition.
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"I'm happy to return to the club where I began, and I'm excited about this new opportunity; I hope to contribute to the first team very soon," Gasol continued. "I want to thank Barca and its technical staff for making it possible to join them."
A native of Barcelona, Gasol first debuted for the junior team at the age of 16. He joined the senior team in 1999 and helped Barcelona win two Spanish League championships. He walked away with 2001 Finals MVP honors before entering the NBA Draft. The Atlanta Hawks selected Gasol third overall before trading his rights to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Barcelona native played 18 seasons in the NBA, the first six with Memphis. The team traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008. This move bolstered the Los Angeles roster and played a key role in Kobe Bryant winning his fourth and fifth rings.
Gasol last played during the 2018-19 season. He started the year with the San Antonio Spurs but headed to the Milwaukee Bucks after being released. However, a foot injury derailed Gasol's tenure with the Bucks after only three games. He began to rehab his injury and expressed a desire to return to the NBA. Gasol even signed with the Portland Trail Blazers before the 2019-20 season, but he was not yet fully recovered.0comments
Gasol spoke about his future in basketball in December 2020 after his brother, Marc, joined the Lakers on a two-year deal. He expressed a desire to play with Marc in Los Angeles, as well as on Spain's Olympic team during the Tokyo Games. Though Gasol acknowledged that he didn't have much say in the matter.
"There is meaning and history there," Gasol said, per ESPN. "I'm not going to lie. It would be very special, and now that my brother [Marc] is there, even more special. But I'm not in a position now to be very demanding. I don't have 10 offers on the table."