Lakers Rumors: Latest on Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant's All-Star Game Dilemma

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Lakers Rumors: Latest on Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant's All-Star Game Dilemma
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Despite the improved play of Pau Gasol, the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers are off to a 3-8 start in the month of January and find themselves in the Western Conference basement.

But with February set to bring the All-Star break, the midseason trade deadline and a potential Kobe return, there's still a lot for Lakers fans to look forward to this winter. 

Below we'll take a closer look at the latest buzz floating around L.A.

 

Memphis Grizzlies Not Interested in Pau Gasol Trade

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There have been rumblings around the league that the Memphis Grizzlies would welcome a trade to reacquire Pau Gasol ahead of February's deadline. However, Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com says that Memphis would only want Gasol if they could sign him as a free agent this summer because of his bloated contract:

And lets stop the Pau wants to be in Memphis talk. They want no part of his $19 million contract. If he'll sign there as a free agent on the cheap they'd take him, but they are not trading for him.

According to Spotrac.com, Gasol's 2013-14 base salary is scheduled to pay him a little less than $19.3 million. However, if he and the Lakers don't agree to an extension by season's end, he'll become a free agent this coming July.

Even though it appears that Memphis is out of the running, there are a number of other teams that could use the veteran's services. Gasol's improved play has boosted his trade value.

After a rough start to the Mike D'Antoni era in L.A., Gasol has found a way to make an impact on a nightly basis in the new year, averaging 20.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting from the floor through 11 games in the month of January. 

For the season, Gasol is averaging 16.6 points and 10 rebounds per game. Keep in mind that Gasol is still shooting a career low 46.3 percent from the field this season.

 

Kobe Bryant Won't Face Suspension for Sitting Out All-Star Game

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There seems to be some confusion when it comes to Kobe Bryant's status for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game this coming February. 

While the Black Mamba plans to sit out because he's missed a majority of the season with injury and doesn't feel he's deserving of the honor, he's admitted that he's wary of a rule mandating that healthy All-Stars play in the midseason showcase, per ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin:

If I played [for the Lakers] before [the All-Star Game], the rule is you got to go in there and play or miss the next two games. So, that just means somebody would have to lose a spot, unfortunately and the back-ups would be playing a lot, because I'd go in there and do my two minutes and sit out.

However, it appears that Kobe is mistaken, according to a league source via McMenamin:

While Bryant referenced a rule, no such rule is believed to actually be in the NBA's handbook. A league source said that the automatic two-game suspension that Bryant referred to was "not really true."

Bryant has been out of the Lakers lineup since Dec. 17 after suffering a left knee injury. As a result of a lengthy recovery from a ruptured Achilles last April, the five-time NBA champion missed the first 19 games of the regular season and has appeared in just six games total in 2013-14.

According to McMenamin, Bryant is expected to be re-evaluated in February, which means he wouldn't return until next month at the earliest.

Having missed 37 regular-season games already this year, it's now a guarantee that 2013-14 will mark the first season of Kobe's career that he's failed to play in at least 50 games. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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