Pau Gasol is entering the final season of his three-year, $60 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. If he hits free agency following the 2013-2014 season, he will be doing so as a 34-year-old veteran who has recently battled knee problems. If Gasol and Kobe Bryant — whose contract is also set to expire after the upcoming season — agree to return to LA at a team-friendly price, the Lakers would have salary cap space to work with and could reload for one final championship run.
Don’t expect it to be that easy. Bryant has already stated that he will not take a pay cut just to finish his career with the Lakers. During a recent interview with Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Gasol said the same.
“If I perform well, am reliable and put up a great season, then I’m sure the Lakers will have interest in extending me maybe before the season is over,” Gasol said. “We’ll see if there’s interest or not. Then we’ll go from there.”
Gasol was then specifically asked if he would consider taking less to remain in LA.
“Probably not,” he said. “You have to explore your options, but I would like to continue to play for the Lakers and maybe finish my career here. But you have to see the cards on the table.”
Even if Gasol was willing to take a pay cut, admitting it now would only weaken his position. It is worth noting, however, that Gasol was not shy about expressing his displeasure with coming off the bench last season. He was also the center of a number of trade rumors, which may have made him feel that the Lakers do not value him as much as they used to.
Kobe has previously stated that Gasol will remain a Laker as long as Bryant does. While that’s a nice thing of him to say, Kobe won’t be making that final call. Unless, of course, they both leave. Is that a possibility? Naaah.
H/T Ball Don’t LieGoogle+