Ric Bucher: Kobe Bryant Believes Pau Gasol's Chance of Staying Is 8 out of 10

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 3: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Portland Trailblazers on March 3, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. 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 2014 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It feels like Pau Gasol's name has been churning in the rumor mill for about as long as he's been a Los Angeles Laker.

And after surviving another trade deadline, his teammate, Kobe Bryant, thinks he could be re-signed by L.A.'s front office this offseason.

In an in-game report during the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Ric Bucher divulged:

This comes as a surprise, as several reports had Gasol being done with the Lakers. One such report came from Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, who said:

This summer, Gasol will move on to some other NBA franchise where, along with his two championship rings, the fresh fans will respect all that is clearly good in him. ...

Both the Lakers and Gasol, who’ve had a working relationship marked by a refreshing sort of maturity, understand it’s time to part.

From a business standpoint, that's the direction that makes the most sense. The Lakers need a fresh start, and they could do so pretty easily by doing one, two or all three of the following: let Gasol walk, amnesty Kobe and use the stretch provision on Steve Nash.

On the other hand, they could choose to make one more run with the aging core. Bucher asked Nash about the possibility during an in-game interview on TNT. Nash said, "I mean, it'd be great if I were back and Pau was back. That'd be fantastic."

But would it be?

Sure, Gasol is having something of a renaissance, averaging 17.5 points and 10 rebounds a game. But he's almost 34 years old. Nash is 40 and has only played in 10 games this season. Kobe's 35 and coming off a torn Achilles and broken knee.

Not exactly a recipe for a bright future.

If they did come together, I'd love to be proven wrong. But the safest option is blowing it up now, and building around two or three of the young pieces on this team and whomever they land in the 2014 draft.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.