Pau Gasol hasn't appeared in an NBA game since March of 2019 due to a navicular stress fracture in his left foot, and there's a chance that we've already seen the last of him on an NBA court. With the league's current campaign suspended indefinitely due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, Gasol, who will turn 40 years old in July, is contemplating retirement at this point of his career.
"With this recovery process and the injury that I have been dealing with for more than a year, it's undoubtedly inevitable to think about retirement," Gasol said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, via NBC Sports. "Also, taking into account that I will be 40 years old in a few months. So, [retirement] is definitely on my mind."
Gasol signed with the Portland Trail Blazers last offseason, but he was waived by the Blazers in November in order to focus on his rehab without ever appearing in a game for the franchise. Though Gasol hopes that his playing days aren't behind him completely, he is preparing for life after basketball.
"It's something that will come one time, sooner or later," Gasol said of retirement. "We hope that time hasn't come yet. But I also take the opportunity to focus on the Gasol Foundation and other off-court projects. And also think of what my next professional stage may be, my next challenges. All this while I'm still recovering, trying to give myself a chance to keep playing. Now, the priority is to overcome this pandemic among all. Everything else is completely secondary."
When he does hang up his sneakers, don't expect Gasol to walk away from the game completely, as the two-time champion has previously expressed a desire to continue to work with an organization in some capacity after his playing days.
"I am not worried about the future. I understand that my career is about to end,"in November. "It is something that I have been assimilating these years. I am sure that my career as a basketball player will end in a little while. It won't be much more, as much as I love playing. There is uncertainty about what will happen after, but I have been training to have different options, objectives and responsibilities.
"Activity will never be missing. I would like to have space to work with an organization, a team or an organization within the sport. I will also look for flexibility to be with my family. For now, I want to continue enjoying this stage as a player, although I know that the chapter, or the book, will end. Then another chapter will begin and we will continue writing good pages."
Whenever Gasol's playing days do come to an end, he will have a great case to be ultimately inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as he has had an extremely productive and well-decorated career spanning two decades. In fact, few have enjoyed the longevity and success that Gasol has, both in the NBA and internationally.
Before he even entered the NBA, Gasol was a two-time Spanish league champion and a Spanish league finals MVP. His success continued in the league where was named Rookie of the Year in 2002. He went on to win two championships alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers, and make six All-Star teams. Over the course of his career in the NBA he has tallied over 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. He was also named the FIBA World Championship MVP after leading Spain to the Gold medal in 2006. He is a two-time FIBA EuroBasket MVP, and he has three Olympic medals (two silver, one bronze) to his name. He also won the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2012.