Pau Gasol still remains a Laker.
The Lakers talked for the past week about a possible deal that would entail Gasol going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Andrew Bynum returns to the Lakers. But it never materialized. The Cavaliers acquired All-Star forward Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls for Bynum, three draft picks and the right to swap first round picks in 2015.
]That leaves Gasol entering the Lakers’ (14-20) game tonight against the Dallas Mavericks (19-15) at American Airlines Center donning the purple and gold, but with hardly any more security. The Lakers could still rid themselves of Gasol’s $19.3 million contract at some point before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
“Off to Dallas. We’ll stay focused on playing as a team, giving everything we have,” Gasol tweeted Monday afternoon before realizing his future. “I’m always thankful for all your support.”
The Cavaliers were intent on trading Bynum in time for him to clear waivers Friday when his $12.5 million contract becomes guaranteed. Cleveland had suspended Bynum recently over conduct deterimental to the team. But the Lakers were only interested in the deal if they could acquire assets, such as young players and draft picks.
The Lakers would’ve immediately waived Bynum, a move coupled with Gasol’s departure that could’ve saved the Lakers nearly $20 million in luxury taxes. But that would’ve officially signaled the Lakers tanking the season, an alarming contradiction to a franchise usually fixated on winning.
Gasol was nominated for Western Conference player of the week honors after averaging 24.33 points on 46.7 percent shooting, 11 rebounds, 4.67 assists and 3.33 blocks in the past three games, marking a sharp increase from his season-average of 15.6 points on a career-low 44.9 percent clip.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org