Lakers trade Marc Gasol’s rights back to Memphis Grizzlies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have traded the rights to Marc Gasol back to the Memphis Grizzlies, where the 36-year-old centre 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 USD10 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 centre 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 centres 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.

File photo shows Los Angeles Lakers centre Marc Gasol (R) drives as Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher defends during an NBA basketball game in Tampa, Florida. PHOTO: AP