In the final stages of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol was in constant trade rumors. Despite winning two championships in three NBA Finals appearances, Gasol made the difficult decision of leaving the franchise when he became a free agent in 2014.
During his time with the Chicago Bulls, Gasol continues to play at a high level in hopes of making another championship run. In the 114-91 win over his former team, Gasol finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes.
Following their final matchup at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant shared the conversation he had with Gasol before the Spaniard left in free agency via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Kobe said that Pau told him in '14 offseason, "I want to play with you forever, but what management did to me was disrespectful."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 29, 2016
While there were expectations Kobe and Gasol would finish their careers together, the constant trade rumors forced the two-time champion to take his talents elsewhere. However, it is important to note that Gasol was the consummate professional despite nearly being traded for Chris Paul in 2011.
With Gasol trying to win his third championship, Kobe will finish his final season without making a playoff appearance. As the Lakers are currently 9-39 and headed to the draft lottery for the third consecutive season, the five-time champion will look to remain relatively healthy and finish his career on his terms.