BARCELONA (Reuters) – Double NBA champion Pau Gasol is to return to boyhood club Barcelona after two decades in the United States in order to get in shape for this year’s Tokyo Olympics, according to widespread Spanish media reports on Saturday.
Gasol, 40, has been out of action since 2019 due to a series of ankle injuries, last playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo said Gasol would play for Barca until the end of the season to reain full fitness ahead of the Games, adding he would earn a small wage with the Catalans.
Gasol, regarded as the best Spanish player of all-time, has represented his country at the last three Olympics, earning silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016.
He began his career with Barcelona in 1998, leaving for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001.
Gasol won back-to-back NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and later played for the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs before his brief spell at Milwaukee, where he played only three games due to injury.
He signed for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019 but was let go four months later without playing a match to focus on rehabilitating his left foot after surgery did not yield the desired results.
His 36-year-old brother Marc, who also began his career with Barca, now plays for the Lakers, having won the 2019 NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors.
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