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Will the Lakers amnesty Pau Gasol?

The Los Angeles Lakers could be facing some difficult financial decisions heading into the 2013-2014 season. The team paid $30 million in luxury taxes this year, and that number would jump to $85 million next season if their payroll remains above $100 million. One of the goals of the new collective bargaining agreement is to curb spending, and it may do just that.

With several veterans on their roster earning a hefty salary, the Lakers may decide to use the amnesty clause. According to the LA Times, Pau Gasol could be the player they use it on if LA is able to re-sign Dwight Howard this summer.

Waiving Gasol via the “amnesty” provision in July could potentially save them more than $60 million in luxury taxes. They would still have to pay his $19.3-million salary, though he could be snapped up by a bidding team that would owe the Lakers millions to help with that cost.

The Lakers also could try to trade Gasol, but his hefty salary next season could be difficult to move and they would likely have to take back salaries totaling at least $15 million, which wouldn’t really help a goal to avoid ridiculous luxury taxes.

The Lakers could also use the amnesty provision on Metta World Peace, although it would not save them nearly as much money. Gasol has been at the center of countless trade rumors since last season, but Kobe Bryant once insisted Gasol will be a Laker as long as he is. Unless Bryant is planning to retire or demand a trade, it might not work out that way.

Since Mike D’Antoni became the coach of the Lakers, there have been questions about whether or not Gasol is a fit for his system. Mark Cuban thinks the Lakers should use the amnesty provision on Kobe, and that probably makes more sense now than it ever did after the torn Achilles. But that’s not happening. The ideal scenario is that LA can trade Gasol and not have to take back as much salary as they’re giving up. As we know, the ideal scenario is not always the one that plays out.

Phil Jackson takes shot at Pau Gasol on Twitter before playoffs

Phil-Jackson-Pau-GasolThe Los Angeles Lakers have made their way into the postseason despite their well-documented struggles all season long. Losing Kobe Bryant for the year down the stretch will certainly hurt, but LA is fortunate to still be playing let alone somehow grabbing a No. 7 seed.

On Saturday afternoon, Pau Gasol tweeted that the Lakers were wrapping up practice and getting ready to head to San Antonio for their opening-round series against the Spurs. What Gasol likely didn’t remember it that Phil Jackson is now on Twitter, which means the Zen Master has another way to screw with the minds of his former players.

Jackson used to coach Gasol and is obviously joking, but we know better than to think he has no motivation behind sending the tweet. Perhaps his motivation is to motivate. With Bryant on the shelf, Gasol and the rest of the Lakers will need to step up if they want to pull off an upset. Maybe Phil is just doing his part to help out some old buddies.

At least this tweet from the Zen Master was more than just a lame advertising ploy.

Mike D’Antoni: I was wrong about Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol

Mike D’Antoni was extraordinarily harsh on Pau Gasol when he took over the job as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in November, but he’s finally softening his stance on the big man.

Gasol returned to the starting lineup on March 25 after missing six weeks with a foot injury. The team has gone 8-2 in its last 10 games — all of which Gasol has played over 30 minutes. Save Sunday’s win over the Spurs, Gasol has been shooting the ball extremely well. He has also been posting great rebound totals (9.7 per game in that span), and averaging 5.6 assists per game over his last 10 contests. His production has not come at the expense of the team’s other big man, Dwight Howard. Howard has routinely shot over 60 percent, grabbed double-digit rebounds and scored over 20 points in recent games.

“I’ve come to realize that we can play with the two big guys,” D’Antoni said in reference to Gasol and Howard while speaking with the media on Tuesday. “I was a little skeptical at first. I think with both of them being close to 100 percent, yeah, they can play together easily. I kind of had a preconceived notion that probably wasn’t right.”

It’s better that D’Antoni made his discovery before it was too late. I honestly thought he was crazy when he was benching Gasol for Earl Clark.

The funny thing is that Howard says nothing is different now from how it was before.

“Nothing has changed,” said Dwight Howard. “We can play together. That’s why they brought us here — so we could play together.”

Though Howard didn’t say it, the big difference is probably the health of the players. Gasol’s conditioning was in question when D’Antoni took over, and D’Antoni was blunt about benching the Spaniard. Maybe the reason Gasol didn’t look so good was because of his knee and foot problems at the time, which have likely improved. We know based on his improved play that Howard is recovering from offseason back surgery.

Maybe the Lakers were not poorly constructed this whole time. Maybe they just were not healthy.

Photo credit: Matthew Emmons, US Presswire

Kobe Bryant crops out Pau Gasol’s head in great Instagram picture

Kobe Bryant Pau Gasol Instagram

Now that Kobe Bryant has some time on his hands, he’s decided to explore the Instagram world. But, like anyone trying out a new technology, he’s experienced a few hitches. Let’s just say he’s still getting his photo cropping skills down.

“Mi hermano Pau came by and chilled wit with me for a few hrs. We laughed and joked and talked strategy…,” wrote as his caption to the photo.

A few minutes after sharing the photo, Bryant realized his error.

“Here’s a better pic! Lol still learning how to work this damn thing ha!”

Here’s the corrected picture:

[Read more...]

Pau Gasol unhappy with fourth-quarter benching against Hornets

Earlier this week, Pau Gasol made it clear that he does not like coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers but insisted he will not become a distraction by complaining about it. After hearing the comments he made following L.A.’s win over the New Orleans Hornets Tuesday night, you have to wonder how long that will last.

Gasol was benched in the fourth quarter of the 111-106 victory. It was the Lakers third win in a row after losing 10 of their previous 12 games, so now would seem like an inappropriate time for anyone to complain. Gasol still decided to vent.

“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate,” he told reporters, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “It’s a challenge. We’re challenged every day, and I’m challenged every day to keep my calm and keep my peace and not let my emotions take over my words.”

Simply put, the Lakers need to stick with what is working. Gasol has been one of the best big men in the league for a number of years, so you can understand why he feels that the team should value him enough to give him more minutes. He recently expressed a desire to be on the floor during crunch time, and he sounded irritated by having to watch his team pull out a close victory from the bench on Tuesday.

“It’s fun to win but when a team comes back on you the way the Hornets did tonight and you are not there as a high-quality player and as a competitor, it’s frustrating,” Gasol explained.

Again, the Lakers won. The Hornets may have come back, but a win is a win. L.A. has pulled its record to 20-25 and it still fighting for a playoff spot. If the wins keep coming with Gasol playing less minutes, the approach needs to remain the same. If Gasol really cared about winning, he wouldn’t question his role with the team during a three-game win streak.

Pau Gasol says he does not like coming off bench but won’t request a trade

The Los Angeles Lakers have finally managed to string together a couple of victories, and they have done so with Pau Gasol coming off the bench. Gasol was very effective in wins over the Utah Jazz on Friday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, scoring a combined 31 points and hitting an impressive 14 of 18 shots from the field. Does that mean the 7-footer is happy? Not exactly.

Gasol seems like he is willing to accept his bench role as long as the Lakers are winning. At the very least, he is not planning to request a trade.

“Not right now,” Gasol told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com when asked if he would seek a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline. “I don’t think now is the time for that step to happen. Right now I’m very focused and committed to our team.

“It’s a difficult situation that we’ve been dealing with here. The last few games have been great, and we’re staying positive and we look forward to that to continue. But at the same time, we don’t need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other. That’s where we’re at and that’s where I’m at, too.”

It would be incredibly premature to say that the Lakers have turned things around, but Gasol is right that the team does not need any distractions. L.A. could still field offers for Gasol, but he has been banged up as of late and will earn nearly $20 million next season, making him an unattractive trade piece.

“I’ve been on this team, in this city, for six years,” he said. “It’s very hard to stick around on this team, and I take pride in that. I think I’m a valuable asset and I want my role to be as big as it can be, within the well being of the team. But I don’t know if being a player that comes off the bench will be something that I’ll be able to accept long term.”

There has been some debate about whether or not Gasol is a good fit for D’Antoni’s offense all season long, but L.A. has undergone a transformation. Kobe Bryant has been running the point the last couple of games, and at the moment it seems to be working. Perhaps Gasol will earn a larger role down the stretch, but for now D’Antoni has no choice but to stick with what’s working.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Lakers bench Pau Gasol for Earl Clark

The biggest loser in the Lakers’ decision to hire Mike D’Antoni is Pau Gasol.

The former All-Star forward has been at odds with D’Antoni all season, and now he has been moved to a bench role permanently.

D’Antoni announced the move on Monday prior to the Lakers’ 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls, and he said Earl Clark would be taking Gasol’s spot in the starting lineup.

Clark, who was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in 2009, began receiving significant playing in recent weeks because of injuries. Dwight Howard was out with a shoulder injury, and Gasol was recovering from a concussion. Clark has played over 20 minutes in each of the team’s past seven games entering Monday, and his play impressed D’Antoni.

D’Antoni says Clark gives the Lakers “a little bit more bounce to our step.” He also feels the move is good for two reasons; it helps the Lakers play a smaller starting lineup, and it puts Gasol back at the center position.

“We’re better when we’re small,” D’Antoni said, per Kevin Ding of the OC Register. “It also puts Pau in his natural position. He’s one of the best centers in the league.”

Gasol had 15 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes in his first game as an official reserve. Clark played 35 minutes and had 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Ding points out that Gasol, who makes $19 million, is the No. 9 highest-paid player in the league. And now he’s a reserve on the Lakers.

This move is not a surprise. D’Antoni has been complaining about Gasol since taking over the job in November. The big man’s conditioning was questioned immediately, and he was repeatedly benched at the end of games. We’re speculating here, but we expect to see Gasol moved after the season.