Pau Gasol is taking things slow as he kicks off his 19th training camp this week.
Gasol played just 30 games last season, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot in March. While he’s nearly back to full strength, he’s been limited in his first three practices for the Portland Trail Blazers — who signed him to a one-year, $2.56 million deal this summer.
Still, Gasol said he’s happy with the progress he’s seen throughout his recovery.
“So far so good, Gasol said, via The Oregonian. “Body’s doing great, now it’s just the ankle getting used to pushing off and the pushing and holding people and the more explosive moves.”
Gasol is gearing up to play for his sixth team throughout his 18 years in the NBA, and his third team in just one year. He put up 10.1 points and eight rebounds in 2017-18 with the San Antonio Spurs, his last full season.
While the 39-year-old is nearing the end of his career, one that will undoubtedly land him in the Hall of Fame, Gasol said he’s more than ready to get back out on the court — especially after his injury-riddled season last year.
“I’m excited after a difficult health year, frustrating,” Gasol said, via the Associated Press. “I’m excited to just work on my body and be healthy so I can do what I do on the floor and just have fun with the guys and compete, and play as hard as I can.”
Gasol, along with Zach Collins and Hassan Whiteside, will fill a much-needed role in the paint this season for the Blazers. The team lost Enes Kanter to the Boston Celtics, and doesn’t expect Jusuf Nurkic — who suffered a gruesome leg injury in March that left him with a steel rod in his leg — back until next year.
It will still take some time for the six-time All Star to get back to 100 percent, and he knows that. Gasol isn’t going to rush his recovery by any means, and he may not even play in a single preseason game this fall in an effort to make sure he’s completely healthy.
His biggest focus, he said, is simply helping out the team in any way possible.
“My mindset and motivation is really to get back on the court and feel well and play well, and play the game that I love to play,” Gasol said, via the Associated Press. “But, also, with really the goal in mind is to help this team have the best possible chance at the end of the year. And that requires being ready from today on. Whatever it is that I need to do, and that I can do, I’m willing to do.”
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