Lakers News: Examining Kobe Bryant's Latest Remarks, Pau Gasol's Future and More

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 5:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media before a game against the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center on January 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 16:  Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers addresses the media before the 2014 NBA All-Star game at the Smoothie King Center on February 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
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Not only are the Los Angeles Lakers all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons, but the Lake Show are on pace to finish with the worst record in the Western Conference in 2013-14. 

With just 20 wins through their first 59 games, L.A. is poised to finish below .500 for only the second time in the last 20 years. 

But not even one of the worst seasons in franchise history can discourage the Lakers' fearless leader: Kobe Bryant.

Below we'll examine the latest news surrounding the Lakers heading into the final six weeks of the regular season. 


Kobe Bryant Eyes Revenge

MEMPHIS, TN - FEBRUARY 26: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers grabs the rebound against Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies on February 26, 2014 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
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Kobe Bryant has played in just six games this season because of injury but has dominated the headlines thanks to the Lakers' poor play on the court and typical Kobe comments off the court like the ones he made this past weekend. 

Unsurprisingly, Bryant's taking L.A.'s struggles and the resulting criticism personally, per Sporting News' DeAntae Prince

This year, we all know it’s been a real tough year for us right? So what I’d like everybody to do is to really just sit back and just absorb this year. Take it all in. Sit back and watch and listen and hear all the hate that’s being thrown at us and remember every person that’s kicking you when you’re down because next year it ain’t gonna be this way.

Appreciate it now. Let it sit in now, because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.

Does all the negative chatter fuel Kobe? You bet, per Prince:

"You’ve got to appreciate that and enjoy that and use that as fuel as motivation to basically just shut everybody the hell up. It’s that challenge, that challenge that drives us all, I think, and definitely keeps me going."

Bryant has been battling injury over the past 11 months since rupturing his Achilles in April 2013, and is currently recovering from a knee injury that has kept him out of the lineup since December. 

It remains to be seen when the 35-year-old superstar will return to the court for L.A., but we'll know more after he undergoes an exam on the knee in mid-March. 

For now, Kobe appears extremely unsatisfied in being reduced to a glorified cheerleader. 


Pau Gasol Leaving Options Open

Veteran big man Pau Gasol is set to become a free agent at season's end, but the Spaniard isn't ruling out any possibilities at this point. 

In a recent blog post on his personal website, Gasol expressed that he wants to compete for a championship and isn't focusing on the financial aspects just yet, per's Dave McMenamin:

Honestly, I'm not ruling out renewing my contract, I'm just open to every option. My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn't be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help to compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage of my career.

Lakers fans will likely have to wait and see what happens this summer.

Gasol, who will turn 34 on July 6, is closing in on his 900th career regular-season game and has been battling injury throughout the season. Not to mention he's seen his production drop off significantly since Mike D'Antoni took over as head coach in the early part of last season.

Gasol's numbers are slightly up from last year despite increased minutes, but the team's uncertain future and the flurry of trade rumors in recent seasons could lead the 7-footer to test the free agent market in 2014. 

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 16:  Xavier Henry #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Shelvin Mack #8 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
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But don't expect the Lakers to let him leave town too easy. After all, Gasol is one of the franchise's biggest assets and played a crucial role in L.A.'s back-to-back championship seasons in 2009 and 2010. 


Xavier Henry Set to Return

Lakers small forward Xavier Henry is all set to return to L.A.'s rotation after missing 28 games with a knee injury. According to Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina, Henry will come off the bench in Monday's road game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

D'Antoni is excited to have Henry back in the mix, per Medina:

The biggest thing (Henry) does is he gives energy. Then he can get to the basket. Now, MarShon can do it, but (Henry) is one of the few guys that can really create off the dribble and get to the foul line a lot.

Henry's return couldn't come at a better time considering that Nick Young continues to miss games with soreness in his knee.

Expect plenty of rust from the fourth-year player out of Kansas, though, as he's been out of the lineup since Dec. 29. Nonetheless, expectations from Lakers fans will be remain lofty for Henry moving forward as he was averaging 12.5 points per game during the month of December before going down. 

Although it's too late for Henry to help L.A. make a last-ditch playoff push, a strong return this spring would give the Lakers something to build on this upcoming offseason.



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