Mitch Kupchak: “There is great interest in re-signing” Pau Gasol

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak tried preaching patience. Nick Ut - Associated Press)

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak tried preaching patience. Nick Ut – Associated Press)

Did Pau Gasol play his last game as a Laker?

Perhaps. The Lakers officially ruled him out for the team’s three remaining games because of vertigo, and the Lakers forward has conceded he will test the free agent market this offseason.

But how do the Lakers feel?

“There’s great interest in re-signing Pau back,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the Daily News. “I don’t know why there would not be interest. He’s a Hall of Famer. But by virtue of being a free agent, he’s in the market place. By being in the market place, we have to see how things play out.”

Gasol helped the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two championships immediately after he was acquired in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. But ever since then, Gasol’s future with the Lakers has become as tenuous as a television pilot cementing its place in the network lineup.

The Lakers traded Gasol three years ago in the Chris Paul deal, only for the NBA to rescind it. The last three seasons, Gasol has become the subject of trade discussions that never materialized. For the past two seasons, Gasol has shared his philosophical differences with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. Gasol prefers a methodical, post-oriented offense, while D’Antoni wants his offense predicated on a fast pace and outside shooting.

Gasol averaged 17.4 points on 48 percent shooting in 31.4 minutes, slightly below his career average of 18.1 points on 51.5 percent shooting. But he has missed a combined 19 games because of various ailments, including an upper respiratory infection, a sprained right ankle and vertigo, which has kept him out for 10 of the past 11 contests. Gasol also hasn’t helped the Lakers’ defense much, which ranks 29th out of 30 NBA teams (allowing 109.5 points per game).

“Statistically, he had a season that’s on par with the seasons in the past,” Kupchak said. “But that’s not how we evaluate success. I think he played as hard as he can play and his numbers are good. But as an organization we didn’t win many games. It was a bad season for everybody. I know with his injuries and his vertigo, it’s been a trying season for him physically.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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