The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the most active teams in free agency, bolstering their frontcourt with the addition of Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell in place of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, plus the re-signing of Markieff Morris.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Gasol has signed a two-year deal with the Lakers on the veteran's minimum.
The 35-year-old comes full circle after he was drafted by the Lakers with the 48th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the deal that brought his older brother Pau to Hollywood.
Marc Gasol is finalizing a deal to sign with the Lakers, sources tell me and @ZachLowe_NBA.- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 23, 2020
In 26.4 minutes per game last season, Gasol averaged 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists, shooting 38.5 percent from the 3-point line on 3.4 attempts in a somewhat down year for the Raptors, however, as much won't be asked of the veteran in LA, with the Lakers boasting plenty of size and depth.
Anthony Davis showed in the playoffs how damaging he can be playing centre, however, Gasol will soak up a bunch of those minutes during the regular season to save Davis from the physical toll of lining up against the league's premier bigs during the regular season.
If the Lakers opt to keep Harrell in the role he's excelled to this point, as the first big off the bench, Gasol will serve as a reliable option as the team's starting centre, giving the Lakers plenty of playmaking, defence, and shooting, creating space for the likes of Davis and LeBron James to operate around the rim.
Now that the Lakers have assembled the 2015 All-NBA frontcourt, let's take a closer look at how Gasol is primed to help the Lakers.
An elite defender
Gasol may be 35 years old and a step slower, however, he remains one of the savviest defenders in the post. Sure, he's not the athletic, shot-blocker Howard or McGee is, but the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year, can still play defence at an elite level.
Last season, the Raptors allowed a stingy 98.9 points per 100 possessions when Gasol was on the court and in tandem with Davis, presents one of the toughest frontcourt matchups on the defensive end.
While Harrell is a ball of energy, he is undersized at 6'7", making Gasol an important part of their rotation, especially considering the gauntlet of big men in the Western Conference.
Against the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, and Kristaps Porzingis, Gasol's presence in the paint allows Davis to roam on the perimeter chasing smaller players, leaving the Spaniard to muscle up inside.
In 2019-20, Gasol allowed just 0.57 points per play on post-ups, which ranks among the best in the NBA.
This is where it gets fun!
The Lakers offence primarily operates with the ball in the hands of LeBron James and with Rajon Rondo signing with the Atlanta Hawks, they added Dennis Schröder to shoulder some of that responsibility, but Gasol will no doubt become an integral part of their offence, especially in the half-court.
Gasol is still one of the best passing big men in the league and at times the Lakers offence can get bogged down, especially without LeBron on the floor. Frank Vogel now has a solid option to facilitate the offence, either from the elbow or the top of the key, with Gasol boasting a myriad of passes in his offensive arsenal.
Sometimes he doesn't even have to look.
Get down the court and Gasol will find you with an outlet pass.
Standing 6'11" Gasol can see over defences and pick out cutters with the best of them.
After shooting 44.2 percent from three in 2018-19, Gasol had a down year of sorts from range last season, burying 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers on 3.4 attempts per game and connected on 38.7 percent on catch-and-shoot triples.
Over a third (36.6 percent) of Gasol's field goal attempts over the past two seasons have come from the 3-point line, converting an impressive 37.1 percent of those opportunities.
Despite his struggles shooting the ball from range in the post-season (18.5 percent), Gasol is still a reliable outside threat, and playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who routinely command double teams, he can expect to see a lot more open looks, either in catch-and-shoot opportunities or in the pick-and-pop.
You can't exactly leave him open and that alone will be enough to create space in the paint for his teammates. If he can consistently be a threat from outside, Gasol will allow coach Vogel to be flexible with his lineups, either playing alongside Harrell and the reserves or in the starting group.
Further to that, he can create opportunities for his teammates with dribble handoffs or as the screener. Last season Gasol logged 2.0 screen assists per game.
Here is Marc Gasol again, standing in the corner three instead of the dunker spot in where Bismack can defend the driving player and him.- Vinay Killawala (@vkillem) November 23, 2020
Now imagine what is going to happen if Bron or Schroder are the ones running this transition action. pic.twitter.com/oSuZj3WzZs
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