Marc Gasol exercises player option to return to NBA champion Raptors

Center Marc Gasol will exercise his $25.6 million player option and return to the Toronto Raptors, the team announced Wednesday. 

Gasol, 34, had the choice to enter free agency, but decided instead to stay with the 2019 NBA champions. 

He had played his entire career with the Memphis Grizzlies before he was traded to the Raptors in February. Gasol had less of a scoring role and played fewer minutes on the Raptors than he did in Memphis, but still averaged 9.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.9 rebounds for Toronto during the regular season.

His defense was crucial to the Raptors' championship run and he stepped up in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds on 44.7% shooting.

Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol (33) is returning to the team. (Photo: Ezra Shaw, USA TODAY Sports)

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The Raptors will look to re-sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and try to keep their starting lineup complete for a run at a repeat championship. Leonard will be one of the top unrestricted free agents this summer.

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