Gasol takes $25.6 mil option, returns to NBA champ Raptors

Montreal (AFP) –


Spanish center Marc Gasol has exercised his $25.6 million one-season contract option to return to the NBA champion Toronto Raptors next season, the Canadian club announced Wednesday.

Gasol, obtained by the Raptors from Memphis at the NBA trade deadline last season, averaged 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 blocked shots a game during Toronto's playoff run to the NBA crown, the first for any non-US franchise.

The 34-year-old seven-footer (2.16m) won a crown in his 11th NBA campaign. The 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is a three-time NBA All-Star and has helped Spain to a Basketball World Cup title as well as two Olympic silver medals.

Gasol, who averaged 13.6 points and 7.9 rebounds combined for the Raptors and Memphis this season, had until Thursday to accept the deal or he would have become a free agent on Sunday.

Raptors teammates Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are expected to become free agents on Sunday.