There is hope that Kobe Bryant will return early this season, but at age 37 and coming off a torn Achilles, the Black Mamba returning as his former self is no certainty.
So as Gasol enters the final year of his contract with the Lakers, that precarious question has been asked: will Gasol take less money to help the Lakers improve next year?
His answer, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times:
“Probably not,” he said. “You have to explore your options, but I would like to continue to play for the Lakers and maybe finish my career here. But you have to see the cards on the table.”
“If I perform well, am reliable and put up a great season, then I’m sure the Lakers will have interest in extending me maybe before the season is over,” Gasol said. “We’ll see if there’s interest or not. Then we’ll go from there.”
For one, credit Gasol for his candor.
He’s been the butt of the joke that has become the Laker’s over the last few seasons, taking on an undeserved amount of blame for the teams on-court problems and being offered in innumerable trade rumors.
We forget that he was actually dealt to Houston as a part of the Chris Paul trade two seasons ago that ended up being nixed by David Stern, returning Gasol to the Lakers.
So why should Gasol – a four-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer — roll over now?
But to leave it at that would be unfair to Gasol and the Lakers. Taking in this quote alone would be understanding it out of context, and that never bodes well for anybody. Gasol also made it clear that his preference would be to stay with the Lakers. And these two rough years that have fractured his relationship with the team?
“Those are two seasons that have already passed that I already moved on from, learned from and experienced,” Gasol said. “I learned from everything just to deal with adversity. Not everything is going to go great. Not everything is going to be in the spot you want to be in and it won’t always be an ideal situation. But you just got to dig in and do your job and keep a positive mindset and attitude.”
If Gasol is healthy and has his mind right, there is no reason to believe that he will not have a bounce back season. He is a supremely talented player, an elite passer and excellent scorer. He should set himself up nicely to be a wanted commodity around the league heading into the offseason.
He’s earned it.
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