The Los Angeles Lakers are a proud, respected franchise that’s seen many legends don its famous purple and gold uniform. One of those greats is Pau Gasol, the seven-foot Spaniard who’s just a few years away from induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
LA has never shied from finding roles within the team for former players. Following a 14-year career with the Lakers, Jerry West later became their head coach and general manager. Magic Johnson also coached briefly, but most famously served as the team’s president of basketball operations from 2017 to 2019. Even non-superstars like Kurt Rambis have been able to carve out roles within the organization.
That brings us to Pau. The 41-year-old joined former vet JJ Redick on his podcast The Old Man and the Three and revealed that one team is willing to show him the ropes in the front office. It just won’t be the Lakers.
Pau Gasol is talking to the Warriors about a potential role in the front office
Gasol, a six-time All-Star, spent 6.5 highly-productive seasons with the Purple and Gold. The big man served as the perfect number two to Kobe Bryant, winning championships in 2009 and 2010. He’ll even see his No. 16 jersey retired by the franchise as soon as next season.
While Pau’s 18-year playing career may be over, he’s far from finished with basketball. Gasol is interested in learning the ins and outs of everything going on behind the scenes. Surely, that’s valuable experience the Lakers, his former team, could give him.
On The Old Man and the Three, Gasol told Redick that he’s currently considering a role with the Golden State Warriors, LA’s Pacific Division rival. While he has no ties to them from his playing days, the Warriors have been one of the NBA’s premier franchises for the last seven seasons.
“I’m exploring a potential role with a team,” Gasol explained. “I’ve been going a little bit under the radar with the Warriors, and they’ve kind of opened their doors for me to come in and be part of meetings, see the guys a little bit, and talk to some of the guys.”
It’s not the first time the Warriors have opened the doors for a Laker legend. West joined Golden State as an executive board member in 2011 and earned a pair of titles in 2015 and ’17.
The Lakers’ front office should be ashamed about not approaching Gasol with an opportunity
Ever since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team in 1979, the Lakers have been a family business. The Buss children have long-held roles within the organization, most notably Jeanie, LA’s controlling owner and president.
It’s not just the Buss clan that makes the Lakers family-oriented. As mentioned earlier, there’s a healthy list of players who wore Laker colors before working for the team in retirement. Not only can those players gain experience and help the Lakers grow, but the Purple and Gold can learn a thing or two from them as well.
So why is Gasol — a two-time champion and future number retiree — going to work for the Warriors? The same Warriors who up until 2015 hadn’t won an NBA title for 40 years?
Gasol isn’t looking to run a team, at least not yet. All he’s looking for is some experience in the front office just to see how things work. Why wouldn’t the Lakers offer him that opportunity anyway?
Given LA’s disappointing season, it should be begging its former stars to come in and offer any help they can. Rather than Gasol talking to Draymond Green and James Wiseman, he should be talking to Anthony Davis and Stanley Johnson. Rather than directly aiding Golden State, one of LA’s biggest rivals, he should be providing assistance to the team he won two rings with.
The “family business” in Los Angeles needs to take care of family. That means proactively reaching out and telling any and all notable players who wore the uniform that they’ll have a role with the team if they want it. Given Pau Gasol’s resume and his significance to the franchise, a call should’ve happened a long time ago.
Gasol will learn more from a successful organization, anyway
If the Lakers and Warriors presented Gasol with two identical offers, he’d have a tough choice. On one hand, LA transformed him from an underrated star on the Memphis Grizzlies to a true champion and future Hall of Famer.
On the other hand, he’d learn a lot more about building a winning organization with Golden State.
Historically, no one in the NBA tops the Lakers’ overall excellence. Only the Boston Celtics can even match it, as both franchises have 17 championships to their name. Yet for the last decade, LA has sat idly by as the Warriors became the class of the league.
From 2013 through 2019, Golden State made the playoffs every season, won five Western Conference titles, and secured three championship banners. In that same stretch, LA had one playoff appearance — a first-round exit in 2013 that Gasol was a part of.
If fact, if it wasn’t for the Lakers’ 2020 title in the bubble, they would’ve had no playoff wins since 2012.
Clearly, the Warriors are doing things right as they once again return to the playoffs in 2022. Meanwhile, LeBron James and Lakers have a 31-45 record that currently leaves them out of the play-in round.
The Lakers are foolish in allowing Gasol to work in any other front office besides their own. But Pau will likely be a lot better off for it.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.