Pau Gasol is returning to Spain to play for Barcelona, with the team announcing that his deal runs through June 30.
The 40-year-old big man began his professional basketball career with Barcelona in 1998-99, spending three Liga ACB seasons with the club and playing with the team in the inaugural season of the Euroleague (2000-01), before making the jump to the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2001-02 season. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in his first season with Memphis.
“I’m happy to return to the club where I began, and I’m excited about this new opportunity: I hope to contribute to the first team very soon. I want to thank Barça and its technical staff for making it possible to join them,” Gasol said in a statement.
Very happy to come back home.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Força Barça! 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/6CewIY2Bil
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 23, 2021
Barcelona’s coach, Sarunas Jasikevicius, was Gasol’s teammate during the 2000-01 season when Barcelona won titles in the Copa del Rey de Baloncesto and the Liga ACB. Gasol was MVP of both finals.
On Saturday, Gasol had denied Spanish media reports that he had reached a deal with Barcelona, writing on Twitter that he remained “focused on my recovery and I am not ready to get back to competing just yet.”
Gasol has been trying to regain his fitness to be ready to play in his fifth Olympic Games. He said last year that he needed to play this season to give himself a chance of making it to Tokyo. He is a three-time Olympic medalist with Spain.
Gasol, a six-time NBA All-Star, won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers after being traded to Los Angeles from Memphis in 2008. He also played for the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks and has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds.
He last played in the NBA in 2018-19, finishing the season with Milwaukee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.