Toronto Raptors

Marc Gasol officially coming back to Toronto Raptors next season

Marc Gasol got a title with the Toronto Raptors, and he has now officially opted in to stay around next season.

At 34 years old and set to make a lot of money in the final year of his contract, it was a no-brainer for Marc Gasol to opt-in with the Toronto Raptors for 2019-20. On Wednesday, multiple outlets reported the veteran center has indeed exercised his $25.6 million player option for next season.

Gasol spent the first 10-plus seasons of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, before being traded to the Raptors at the trade deadline in February. His playing time went down with Toronto over the final 26 regular season games (24.9 minutes per game), with career-lows in some other notable categories over that stretch (9.1 points per game).

Gasol didn’t light it up offensively in the playoffs either, averaging just 9.4 points per game. But he was a vital cog defensively throughout the postseason, and he had five games with 16 or more points over the 12 games spanning the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals.

Gasol’s now locked-in salary pushes Toronto over the projected $109 million salary cap for next season, with a max deal for Kawhi Leonard coming if he returns and Danny Green sure to want more than the $10 million he made last year. Bringing back Leonard and Green would, obviously, push the Raptors well beyond the projected $132 million tax threshold. But the move to trade for Leonard and be all-in worked out last season, all the way to the payoff of a title, so the financial implications of bringing everyone back may be set aside.

Next: NBA Free Agency 2019: 5 targets for the Los Angeles Clippers

Gasol will turn 35 next January, so there’s a chance he plays one more year and decides to retire. But with a legit chance to win back-to-back titles right now (with Leonard’s landing spot unclear), and not being able to get anything close to $25 million on the open market, opting in and returning to the Raptors was an obvious decision.

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