Pau Gasol has played for the Los Angeles Lakers for six seasons. Now the two-time NBA champion has ended his professional relationship with the Lakers.
That's because he has packed his bags in Tinseltown and moved to the Windy City to play for the Chicago Bulls. Although he is taking a smaller three-year offer worth $22 million, Ben Bolech of the Los Angeles Times reported that he was quite happy to take the pay cut in return for a stable future.
"Just a gut feeling that I needed to move on," Gasol said. "I needed something different, I needed to be in a different position where I could be assimilated, where I could be motivated every single day, where I could be rejuvenated, where I could win and strive for greatness again."
Gasol made those comments on Monday at a game in the Staples Center, where his new team faced the Los Angeles Clippers. He sat out from playing in this game due to a strained left calf.
However, he had an unusual feeling when he returned to the Staples Center.
"Maybe it's not difficult (coming back to Staples) but it's strange," Gasol said. "A lot of feelings obviously go through my mind and body. But I knew this was going to happen eventually."
Gasol later referred to a future game date on Jan. 29, 2015. According to Janis Carr of the Orange County Register, that's when Gasol would have his official homecoming at a game between the Bulls and Lakers in Los Angeles.
"When you play for so many years with a team, there's always a part of you that stays with that team. There's no way around it," he said.
Gasol's move to Los Angeles may have improved both his spirits and his basketball performance. According to the Los Angeles Times, he has averaged 18.6 points and 2.5 blocks per game, the highest since the 2010-11 season and highest of his career respectively.
Despite his performance, trade rumors continued to bother him. According to the Orange County Register, that's because Gasol was part of the Chris Paul trade that would have sent him to Houston, which later became voided.
Not even Lakers star Kobe Bryant could convince Gasol to continue playing for Los Angeles.
"He wanted me to stay, and part of me also wanted to stay with him and just ride it out because we've been through magnificent times, but also some rough times, and I'm not the type of person who just jumps ship when things get hard," Gasol said. "But I was at a point emotionally that I just needed to move on for myself and the rest of my career."
However, Gasol has placed the past behind him, choosing instead to look toward the future.
"You have to stick to what happened and reality, and now I've just got to focus on the present," he said.