Pau Gasol is the type of guy who'd give a positive review after a botched root canal. So when he responded to questions about the way Dwight Howard is handling his current free agency with some lukewarm answers, it said a lot about how frustrated the Spaniard must really be.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Gasol said:
"Dwight is looking at his options, and there's nothing wrong with that, I guess. I'm not him. I'm not in his position, but I guess it all starts with his decision and I'm sure the franchise is waiting to see whether he decides to sign (with the Lakers) or sign with somebody else, I guess."
Let's (over)analyze. Gasol uses the term "I guess" on two separate occasions in the span of three sentences, distances himself from the decision-making process Howard is using by saying "I'm not him" and alludes to the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers are stuck in an annoying holding pattern until D12 makes up his mind.
I'd say it sounds like there's some frustration beneath the surface. Wouldn't you?
Contrast Gasol's tepid response to the unfailingly positive attitude he displays on Twitter and the difference becomes pretty obvious.
Great half of playoff basketball in Memphis. OKC's played really well but the Grizzlies kept up pretty well. I'm ready for the 2nd half.— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) May 14, 2013
Loving his former team (for which his brother now plays) is one thing. But praising both squads in the contest is another. This guy likes everyone.
Give a lot of credit to the Spurs. They know how to get it done. A lot of respect for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) May 17, 2013
He can even appreciate a team that has been among the Lakers' chief rivals for the past decade. Gasol's positivity does not discriminate.
In fact, even when looking at a three-month rehab after surgery on both knees, Gasol's mood is stuck on "stoked."
Everything has gone well! Now I'll have to rest my knees and start with the rehab. Thanks everyone for your support! twitter.com/paugasol/statu…— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) May 9, 2013
Perhaps most incredibly, he's still capable of sending good vibes to the guy who has put him through a confusing praise-abuse-praise cycle for years.
If he can remain friends with Kobe Bryant after all he's been through, it really says something that he's showing signs of anger toward the way Howard is handling free agency. But to be fair to Gasol, he's got a right to be miffed. Howard has to decide what he's going to do before the franchise makes its own decision on how to deal with Gasol and his $19 million contract next year.
Gasol told Amick:
Obviously from the team's standpoint, the sooner Dwight makes his decision the better. And as players and teammates too (it's better), because in a way I don't know—there's certain things that depend on his decision, right? Probably. I don't know what percentage (it factors in), or to what extent, but to some extent yes.
The Lakers have put Gasol on the back burner before. In fact, they've done worse than that. He was actually traded for Chris Paul before the league stepped in and told him to unpack his bags. Plus, it seems as though he's been the subject of a dozen trade rumors every year.
Toss in the fact that Howard's presence in L.A. was largely responsible for Gasol having to struggle through a season in which he failed to find a consistent role, and it's easy to understand why he's not particularly psyched about the current situation.
The saying goes: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
And if Pau Gasol can't say anything nice, it pretty much means he can't stand you.