Lakers trade Marc Gasol to Grizzlies with release in the works

Spain's Marc Gasol plays against Japan during a men's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Saitama, Japan, Monday, July 26, 2021 (Eric Gay/AP).

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have traded the rights to Marc Gasol back to the Memphis Grizzlies, where the 36-year-old center spent his first 11 NBA seasons.

The Lakers also sent a second-round pick in 2024 and cash to Memphis on Friday in exchange for the draft rights to Chinese big man Wang Zhelin.

ESPN then reported the Grizzlies intend to waive Gasol, who plans to begin the new NBA season at home in Spain. The move saves the Lakers about $10 million against the salary cap and the league’s luxury tax.

The 36-year-old Gasol averaged a career-low 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season with the Lakers, who signed him to a two-year deal last November. The 7-foot-1 center never found a regular role in the injury-plagued Lakers’ rotation while they lost in the first round of the postseason.

Gasol’s role for the upcoming season looked increasingly tenuous this summer after the Lakers signed centers Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, who officially returned to Los Angeles on Thursday. The Lakers also weren’t even certain Gasol wanted to return for another NBA season, prompting them to stock up on big men.

Gasol made three All-Star teams during his career with the Grizzlies, who first acquired his rights from the Lakers in the trade sending his older brother, Pau, to the Lakers in November 2008.

Gasol was traded from Memphis to Toronto in February 2019, and he won a championship ring later that season.

Gasol is averaging 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in his NBA career as a playmaking center with strong defensive abilities as the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Those skills never translated into consistent contributions with the Lakers, who acquired center Andre Drummond near the trade deadline last season.

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