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Lakers trade Marc Gasol to Grizzlies for draft rights

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly traded center Marc Gasol back to the Memphis Grizzlies, but the Spaniard is not likely to play for the team.

Los Angeles, CA - May 30:  Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns shoots over Marc Gasol #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter of game four of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoff basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on
MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-NeMediaNews Group via Getty Images

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the Lakers will trade Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick, and money, in exchange for the draft rights to Chinese center Wang Zhelin. This deal will save the team $10 million.

Gasol’s return to the Grizzlies brings him full circle. He was chosen by the Lakers in the second round of the 2007 draft and then was traded to the Grizzlies. He played 11 years with them before joining the Toronto Raptors in 2018 and then the Lakers last year.

Gasol to remain in Spain

The Grizzlies will then seek to waive the Barcelona native so that he can remain in his native Spain. This move indicates that the 36-year-old won’t play in the 2021-22 season of the NBA, and may finish out his basketball career in his home country.

His departure from the Lakers doesn’t come as a surprise, after two other centers, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan were added to the team’s roster. It would have been difficult for all three to get significant playing time.

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No big numbers for Gasol

Since joining the Lakers last season, Gasol had not come up with impressive statistics, averaging five points and 4.1 rebounds in 52 games as the team were eliminated in the first round.

He missed nine games during the season after getting hit hard by Covid-19, an experience he described as difficult.

27-year-old Wang meanwhile hasn’t played for the NBA since being drafted five years ago. The seven-foot player was the 57th pick in the 2016 draft and a former MVP in the Chinese Basketball Association, playing for the Fujian Sturgeons.

Although his numbers are strong, averaging 18.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks during the 2020-21 season, it is still unclear whether the Lakers consider Wang a possible future rotation player or merely an asset to seal the deal without compromising the $10 million in savings from swapping Gasol.