Has Pau Gasol expended his nine lives with the Lakers yet?
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson seems to think so, and the reason wouldn’t entail the Lakers finally pulling a trigger on an actual trade scenario. Gasol has painfully reiterated his wish to stay here despite the Lakers’ willingness to shop him around ever since the NBA disproved of Gasol going to the Houston Rockets three years ago in the nixed Chris Paul deal. But what about when Gasol becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1?
“I don’t know if Pau would want to re-sign with them or not,” Jackson told USA Today as part of a wide-ranging interview. Maybe he feels that’s not the best place, but he likes LA, he likes the fans.”
Gasol recently suggested this might be a reality.
On his website, Gasol wrote that he’ll value the chance to win a third NBA championship over money. In past years, that factor benefited the Lakers. But the Lakers (20-39) enter their game tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers (41-18) at the Moda Center with the Western Conference’s worst record. Uncertainty lingers on how Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee) and Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) will overcome long-term injuries. It doesn’t help that Gasol has felt marginalized under Mike D’Antoni’s system.
“Honestly, I’m not ruling out renewing my contract, I’m just open to every option,” Gasol wrote. “My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn’t be any other way. I want to be on 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.”
Gasol may not even attract the Lakers this offseason. After making $19.3 million this season, Gasol’s market value could interfere with the Lakers’ hope to maximize financial flexibility for the 2015 offseason and beyond.
In the USA Today interview, Jackson reiterated he has no plans to coach again. He also added skepticism that he would ever have a front office role despite his long-term relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. But considering Jackson’s criticism on how Lakers vice president player of personnel Jim Buss has managed the team, what’s Jackson’s outlook on the Lakers’ rebuilding phase?
“They’re just great options,” Jackson said. “They’re going to have, what, a top five pick — maybe top four? Everybody is looking at those odds and what those odds mean. … It’s a chance of getting a tremendous pick and then they have to go from there basically.”
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