Pau Gasol Says He'd Like to Re-Sign with LA Lakers After 2013-14 Season
Don't forget about Pau Gasol.
The Los Angeles Lakers have big plans for next summer. Only Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are under guaranteed contracts for 2014-15, leaving the Lakers with the most financial flexibility they've had in recent memory.
Flush with cash, Los Angeles is expected to pursue marquee names like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, provided they hit the open market. Toss in the fact that free-agent-to-be Kobe Bryant isn't going anywhere, and the Lakers' agenda seems set. Change is on the horizon.
According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, Gasol hopes he can be a part of that change:
It's nice to be here in the last year of my contract. I'd love to continue to play with the Lakers [next year]. We've been through so much together. Mostly amazing moments and some hard moments too.
It's like a relationship. If you're still together, it shows improved strength and consistency and how solid the relationship is. Hopefully we'll see if we can extend it.
Gasol has spent the last five-plus seasons with the Lakers, during which time he has helped them win two championships. Though returning to Los Angeles is far from out of the question, he doesn't figure to be a top priority.
First, there's the free-agency business, which begins with Kobe. The Lakers must re-sign him and see how much they have left to work with. He can demand close to $32 million in 2014-15 if he wanted (he won't), and the more money Los Angeles gives him, the less it has to spend on others.
Next, the Lakers must see if they can afford one or both of LeBron and Anthony. If they can't, they'll move on. More likely than not, Kobe will take some kind of a pay cut, allowing them to chase at least one.
From there, after the Kobe, LeBron and Anthony matters are settled, the Lakers are free to look elsewhere. That's when they'll turn their attention to Gasol.
Negotiations would be predicated upon Gasol's willingness to take less himself and the 2013-14 campaign he has. Gasol, 33, is coming off the worst season of his career. He averaged career worsts in points (13.7) and field-goal percentage (46.6) and appeared in a career-low 49 games. The Lakers will want to see how he rebounds from that injury-plagued crusade.
This is all assuming the team doesn't trade him.
Though it's unlikely the Lakers make any blockbuster moves that compromise their impending cap space, Gasol's name has a habit of cropping up in trade proposals. There's also the possibility Gasol gets a more lucrative offer from another team in 2014, one that can guarantee him a more prominent role in its system.
What will happen with Gasol and the Lakers?
Despite the many obstacles standing between Gasol and a return to Los Angeles, remaining with the Lakers isn't impossible.
Plans change; things go awry. Tinseltown could fail to sign other stars, or some combination of Kobe, Anthony and LeBron could prove uber-generous and leave the Lakers with enough cash to make Gasol an offer.
Put simply, there's no telling what comes next for Gasol in Los Angeles. Too many outside factors are at play and out of his hands.
Like the rest of us, he'll just have to wait and see.
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