Lakers Rumors: Pau Gasol's Loyalty to the Franchise Puts LA in Ideal Situation

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIJune 30, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol argues a call while playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The Lakers won 114-110. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers may have an ace in the hole in Pau Gasol.

Even though the team dragged his name through the trade-rumors mud for the last three years, and even traded him to the Houston Rockets in a three-team deal that was supposed to land Chris Paul in Los Angeles before David Stern intervened, the 33-year-old free agent still won't close the door on a return to L.A.

Per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne's report: "While free-agent forward Pau Gasol grew tired of the persistent trade rumors that followed him for the better part of the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he would give strong consideration to re-signing with the team, according to sources with knowledge of the situation."

ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin reported that the Lakers still want Gasol, but the team will pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony first.

If the Lakers were to lure James and Anthony, Gasol would have to take a modest contract to return to L.A. He's smart enough to know that, and the fact that he won't rule the Lakers out suggests he's willing to take a pay cut. 

Gasol is still a formidable big man who is worth more than a mid-level exception, even if the deal is only worth two years. Last season, Gasol averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Because of his love for Kobe Bryant and the organization, Gasol could wind up being the biggest bargain in free agency.

A potential staring lineup that features Bryant, James, Anthony and Gasol would obviously be among the best, if not the premier starting unit in the NBA.

The Lakers could essentially have a Big Four without paying the price tag you might associate with such a grouping. Los Angeles will not be alone in their pursuit of Gasol.

Per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the New York Knicks have designs of signing Gasol for a similar discounted rate to team with Melo, should he choose to stay in the Big Apple.

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Pau Gasol #16, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers pose for a portrait after defeating the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Los Angeles
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

With Gasol's former head coach Phil Jackson serving as the president of the Knicks and former teammate Derek Fisher in as the new head coach, New York is hoping Gasol's loyalties extend to old Laker connections as well.

After the biggest names have signed to their new—or old—teams, Gasol may just become the biggest secondary target for contenders.

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