The Trail Blazers appeared to make their final signing of the 2019 offseason when veteran big man Pau Gasol agreed to place his signature on a one-year deal. The 39-year-old center is firmly in the twilight of his career, but his title-winning experience is a bit of a rarity for the Blazers.
Forbes contributor Mike Tokito highlighted how Gasol is set to become the first title-winning player to earn minutes for the Blazers since Dorrell Wright.
At times when the Blazers need an emotional lift, Gasol could simply bring in one of his championship rings as a way to inspire his teammates. He will become the first player who plays for Portland after having won a championship since Dorell Wright, who played for the Blazers in 2013-14 and 2014-15 after winning a championship with Miami in 2006. Wright, however, only played 20 games with the Heat as a then-20-year-old. (We’re ignoring Festus Ezeli, who signed a two-year deal with Portland after winning the title with Golden State in 2015, but never appeared in a game with the Blazers and was waived.)
Going back even further, Tokito looked at how Scottie Pippen’s resume compares to Gasol’s previous stops.
You have to go back to Scottie Pippen to match Gasol’s championship pedigree among players who joined the Blazers. Pippen, of course, had won six championships with Chicago when he joined Portland as a 34-year-old in 1999-2000, and he immediately helped the Blazers reach the Western Conference Finals. That was Portland’s deepest playoff run before it was matched by the 2018-19 team.
Pippen started 260 of the 272 games he played in four seasons with the Blazers, probably not the type of role Gasol will play. He figures to function as a backup center behind Whiteside to start the season, then make spot appearances when Nurkic returns from his horrific leg break sometime during the season, and Whiteside moves to the backup role.
Between his two stops with the Spurs and Bucks, Gasol was limited to just 30 regular season games in the 2018-19 season. In the 2017-18 season, he was featured in 77 regular season games (63 starts) and five playoff contests.
You can read Tokito’s full story at Forbes.