Lakers forward Pau Gasol said Tuesday that he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll play for Spain in the European Basketball Championships this September in Warsaw, Poland.
Like his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, Gasol has played two long NBA seasons and in the Olympics over the past two seasons, making rest and relaxation this offseason important.
But Gasol said Tuesday, as he walked to his car after meeting with Lakers officials at the team’s training center in El Segundo, that he’d really like to help Spain win a European Championship.
Asked if Lakers coach Phil Jackson or general manager Mitch Kupchak encouraged him to rest instead, Gasol said, “No. They understood.”
Gasol said that if he doesn’t compete, he’ll instead serve as a commentator on Spanish TV.
Small forward Trevor Ariza’s agent David Lee said late Tuesday afternoon that he had not begun negotiations with the Lakers on a new contract for Ariza, but expected talks to commence over the weekend or early next week.
“Right now is the time to enjoy the championship instead of looking at the future,” said Lee, who also represents Lakers center Andrew Bynum. “I certainly have a good feeling about the Buss family and Mitch, but only time will tell. It’s their pocket, they’re the ones writing the check.”
Lee said that Ariza “bleeds purple and gold, there’s no doubt about that” when asked if it was his sense Ariza would like to remain with the Lakers.
When asked whether he though Ariza had boosted his market value with his successful season, and particularly with his outstanding postseason, Lee said:
“I think that’s probably a very, very fair statement. Maybe even an understatement.”
Trevor Ariza was asked about his hustle plays throughout the playoffs and which, if any, were the most memorable.
“Honestly to me the play that really stood out wasn’t even by me, it was by Derek Fisher in the Houston series,” Ariza said. “He said that he didn’t really mean to run over Scola, but I think that was the biggest play throughout our whole playoffs because that showed the toughness he had and how hungry he was for us to get past and persevere through hard times, on our pursuit (of the championship).”
Just got done with Trevor Ariza’s exit interview, where there wasn’t much point in beating around the bush. Like Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, Ariza is one of three key free agents for the Lakers this offseason so it was best to get straight to the point.
“You coming back,” I asked, before he could even sit down.
“I’d love to, I hope so,” Ariza said. “I feel like I’m at home here. Because I am at home. So I’d definitely love to come back. ”
When asked what the most important thing to him, when looking at other teams, would be, Ariza said:
“Definitely stability would mean the most,” he said. “I mean money is important, this is our job here. But I’ve really bonded with my coaches and teammates. We have a really good team and think that we could be really good for a long time.”
Ariza said his meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson seemed to go pretty well.
“They definitely told me that I improved a lot and they were happy with the way I played and was able to help our team,” Ariza said. “They looked really happy and pleased with my improvement.
Asked if they expressed to him whether they wanted him to come back, he joked:
“Yeah, I felt loved in there.”
As for the free agent process, Ariza said he hoped he could get done with it quickly and painlessly.
“Hopefully it won’t be that long, but it should be a fun time for me and my family. I’m going to enjoy it a little bit, and hopefully it doesn’t get too out of hand.”
The Lakers and AEG just held a press conference confirming all expenses for tommorrow’s parade will be covered by the Lakers, AEG, FSN and a group of civic leaders.
Here’s a list of those fine people who stepped up to pay for tommorrow’s parade, so the City Council can go back to worrying about how to close the city’s budget shortfall.
Casey and Laura Wasserman, Margie and Jerry Perenchio, Cheryl and Haim Saban, Edyth and Eli Broad, Sharon and Joe Hernandez of Melissa’s Fruits and Vegetables, GAyle and Ed Roski adn the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
That group combined to donate about $900,000 for the parade.
Well, the season is history. The Lakers won their championship and the party started in earnest today. Actually, the fellows looked a bit tired as they limped down the stairs from their chartered airplane after it landed at LAX this afternoon. The parade is Wednesday and then the team’s annual exit interviews between players and coaches. Can’t say when those will be, but I’m guessing they’ll take place later in the week. It’s a good chance to catch up with the players and coaches before they leave town for the offseason. I plan to have a blog item on every player, with comments and final statistics. So, check back.
Also, thanks to everyone who stopped by for a peak this season. We started with only a handful of views and grew by leaps and bounds. We also had almost no comments to start the season, but we’ve had more and more as the playoffs heated up this spring. So, thanks again. We’ll keep everyone updated on all the offseason moves, including the draft, which will be held June 25. Free agency follows July 1.