The big mistake the Toronto Raptors made this offseason was reportedly making Serge Ibaka feel like he was Plan B.
Toronto was totally content bringing the band back together for one more run in 2020-21, but according to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, that plan began to fall apart when Ibaka found out the team also wanted to bring back Marc Gasol.
"The Raptors’ first offer – about $12 million for the 2020-21 season – was below what he was expecting and while Toronto came up to $14 million, they were still trying to keep some powder dry to pursue Gasol. That didn’t go over well with Ibaka who, according to multiple sources, resented having to play behind the Spanish international and wasn’t going to sign on for a shared role again. Ibaka quickly pivoted to the Los Angeles Clippers and their two-year deal for $19 million," Grange reported in January.
Well, it turns out Gasol doesn't particularly like being Plan B, C, or D either.
Those first signs of aging that the 36-year-old Gasol showed last season have really been exacerbated this year with the Los Angeles Lakers. He's averaging just 4.8 points and four rebounds in 19.7 minutes played for the Lakers. It's gotten to the point that the team has begun moving away from the skilled big, bringing in Andre Drummond to help shore up the frontcourt rotation.
That's a decision that hasn't sat well with Gasol.
"It's a tough pill swallow because I know I'm going to be out of the lineup at some point and that's just, you know, it's never easy on a player," Gasol said when asked if he wanted to stay with the Lakers.
While he affirmed his commitment to the team, he did say it feels as though he's not entirely needed right now.
"I think there's an 'if' — 'if' they need you. And it's a big 'if,'" Gasol said. "You're not Plan A right now. You're Plan C, D, and you have to accept it because that's your job. And that's what you sign up to do. It's never easy to accept that. ... It's not easy, but it's life. You have to adapt. Either you take it as a challenge or you move on."
Some anonymous NBA executives have reportedly told Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer that Gasol could be bought out by the Lakers, however that report has been dispelled by The Athletic's Jovan Buha whose sources have told him the Lakers are unlikely to waive the big Spaniard.