Lakers’ Byron Scott said Pau Gasol should get a “standing ovation” from Lakers fans

Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol goes in for the dunk as Jimmy Butler (21) and Andre Drummond (0) watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol goes in for the dunk as Jimmy Butler (21) and Andre Drummond (0) watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Ever since the NBA released its schedule last August, Pau Gasol immediately zeroed in on this upcoming date. He will return to Los Angeles for Thursday’s game against the Lakers, which will mark the first time he faced his former team at Staples Center since leaving them this offseason through free agency.

Gasol anticipated he will feel more emotional than when the Lakers visited the Bulls in Chicago for a Christmas Day matchup. Lakers coach Byron Scott sounded pretty confident the fans at Staples Center will feel just as sentimental and will greet him with a “standing ovation” for obvious reasons.

“This is a guy who was here that helped them win two championships,” said Scott, referring to the Lakers’ title runs in 2009 and 2010. “He deserves that. I thought Pau was a great player when he was here and is still a great player and having a lot of success in Chicago. Fans should show him the respect he deserves.”

The Lakers surely will. They plan to give the fans in attendance a commemorative T-Shirt and will play a pre-game tribute video capturing Gasol’s 6 1/2 year career with the Lakers after they acquired him in a trade in 2008 from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Yet, Gasol’s time with the Lakers featured some speed bumps.

The Lakers traded him the Houston Rockets as part of the deal that would have landed them Chris Paul in 2011. But then the NBA nixed the deal. Nothing was ever the same. The Lakers still entertained trade offers for Gasol. Gasol faced reduced roles from former coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni. Various health ailments hurt Gasol’s play, too.

With the Lakers finishing last season with their worst record in L.A. franchise history, Gasol declined the Lakers offers for three-years at $29 million or two years and $23 million with a no-trade clause. Instead, Gasol accepted a three-year deal worth about $22.5 million to join the Bulls, where he has posted 18.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and a career-high 2.2 blocks. Gasol will also start for the Eastern Conference All-Stars in what will mark his fourth career All-Star appearance, his first since 2011. In the Lakers’ 113-93 Christmas Day loss to Chicago, Gasol posted 23 points and 13 rebounds.

“I think he’s rejuvenated,” Scott said. “He went there with a renewed sense of energy. Here in L.A., for whatever reasons, he was getting beat up a lot. It took a toll on him. I think that was one of the main reasons he went to Chicago.”

Gasol has told Los Angeles Newspaper Group, among other media outlets, that he mainly left for Chicago because that team gave him the best chance to win an NBA championship. Gasol remembers fondly the feeling on when he won two with the Lakers.

“When he first walks in the building, he’ll have a lot of emotions,” Scott predicted. “It’ll be a mixture of emotions. Once it’s all said and done and the game is over, the people here will appreciate it.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

  • Arthur Jury

    Note Pau Gasol took LESS MONEY to sign with Chicago than what the Lakers offered. What is it about the Lakes that is so bad a guy turns down $7 million to go elsewhere (Kobe Bryant? Jimmy The Buss? Mean Girlfriend? Noisy Neighbors in Redondo? Mafia hitman?) Very weird. I like Pau, hope he scores 50 next time against LA.

    • LegendInMyMind

      Front Office didn’t want him, and they proved it repeatedly. He should’ve been the focal point of the offensive system with or without Phil here, that was the key to success during their last run. Instead he was marginalized and wasn’t sure which team he’d be playing for on a day to day basis with being a fixture on the trade block.